Perfect Match

Simon Tam

Can one wine successfully match all the different tastes and textures of Thai appetisers such as fish cakes, shrimp cakes, sugar cane prawns and pandan chicken? It may seem impossible, but since enjoying food and wine is rarely an exact science, it's possible to have a middle-ground, versatile wine that complements a similar range of taste intensities and textures.

Reserve Chardonnay, Terrazas 2004, Mendoza, Argentina

Chardonnays are made in just about every country in the world, and the cookie-cutter approach winemakers take with this grape makes for quite predictable wines. The winemakers at Terrazas start to make the wine in the vine- yard, instead of the winery. The grapes are grown in high-altitude vineyards on the side of the Andes high above Mendoza. The high, cold altitude gives the grapes plenty of flavour-accumulating time on the vine. The result of having all these delicious grape flavours is that little oak is needed. It's medium bodied and tastes fresh and grapey. The lush fruit and crisp acidity lend themselves to enhancing Thai spices and balances the fried oiliness. You could also serve this Terrazas with Thai green curry.

Available for $200 from Riche Monde (tel: 2976 1888)

Riesling Kabinett, Schloss Johannisberger 2000, Rheingau, Germany

German rieslings are mostly semi-sweet, but also fruity, and it's this generous fruitiness that makes them so drinkable. Germany's winemaking laws allow the addition of grape juice concentrate (but not straight sugar) in lower quality wines. There's none of that in this Riesling Kabinett, from one of the oldest wine-producing estates, which dates back almost 400 years. It's from the slightly sunnier Rheingau region and, as a result, the wines are rich with citrus-like fruit. It's often slightly drier than the same Kabinett category from the Mosel. The natural grape sugars go a long way to neutralise chilli heat. It's simply refreshing. You could also try it with spicy fried whole fish.


Available for $350 from Remy (tel: 2523 5904)

Pinot Gris, Spencer Hill Tasman Bay 2004, New Zealand

Pinot gris is a food-friendly wine. Unlike sauvignon blanc, it has no distracting, pungent perfume. It's also more generous than the riesling. The range of pinot gris flavours is broad and full of exotic savoury spices and tropical fruit. This Spencer Hill estate is one of New Zealand's frontrunners. It's lush with lots of fruit and little unfermented grape sugars for easy drinking. You could also try it with dry Indian curries.

Available for $132 from Wine'n'Things (tel: 2873 5733)