I'm Making Thai Curry... What Wine Do I Serve?

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What wine pairs well with spicy food like Thai Curry?

School's in session, on your terms: We're asking the Valley's top wine gurus to answer all your wine-related queries, tackling them one at a time each Wednesday, so we can all stress less and pour more. Today's teacher: Pavle Milic, the owner and wine director at FnB.

First up: If you're actually making Thai curry, props to you. If you're like us, you're probably picking it up from your favorite Thai takeout. We ask Pavle Milic, the owner and wine director at FnB, what wine he'd serve with green veggie and chicken panang curries: Something sweet and German.

"Almost always German Rieslings will have higher acid, residual sugar and lower alcohol content," Milic says.

Why do German wines go so well with Thai food? "The high acid helps to keep the palate refreshed and clean," Milic explains. "The residual sugar helps to simmer down the spice. And the low alcohol makes the wine well-balanced and a good 'school night' wine."

(Click through for Milic's bottle and vintage suggestions, plus where to pick them up locally... And the lazy man's option that takes even less wine knowledge to pull off.)

Milic recommends the 2009 Dr. Loosen Riesling, which he says is a good value at $12.99 a bottle, to pair with a medium to hot green and panang curries. If you make (or in our case order) either curry without the heat, Milic recommends the 2008 Pillsbury Pinot Gris, made in Cochise County, Arizona, and priced at $19.99.

"It's zippy and clean but also has some floral qualities on the nose that pair well with curry," Milic says of the Pillsbury Pinot Gris.

Stop at AZ Wine Company's South Scottsdale Store and ask for Robert Lindeman, Milic says. Lindeman can guide you to an interesting wine you've not yet tried or blind taste you to test your palate.

"What I love about AZ Wine Company is what I love about shopping for music at Stinkweeds: The interaction with someone who loves what they do," Milic says. "We geek out over wine."

Bottom line: Thai food needs some sweetness to cut the heat and complement the flavors.

"If it's flavorful but not spicy, a Riesling is great because it has some residual sugar with a fruity nose," Milic says. "If you have a spicy curry, I like a Gewürztraminer because is has the backbone to live up to spicy food."

The Germans made it easy: Gewürztraminer means spicy, Milic explains. The wine's and ideal match for spicy food because its richness and suppleness can stand up to the food's intensity. 

Looking for something even less complicated? "The other option that will always do the trick is beer," Milic says, more specifically a light beer: Blonde ale or pilsner for flavorful curry and an IPA for spicy curry.

Come back for class next Wednesday and leave your questions for our wine gurus in the comments below, no hand-raising necessary.

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Hannah E Williams