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Wines with Thai food that make you smile

Girgentina Frizzante is a great one-typefits- all bottle of wine at a Thai table.Girgentina Frizzante is a great one-typefits- all bottle of wine at a Thai table.

Not everyone thinks of wine as a refreshing drink. In fact, the word ‘wine’ often evokes thoughts of a contemplative, dust-encrusted bottle that’s ritually uncorked, decanted and sipped from big round glasses which, of course, it can be.

But these wines aren’t the type of wines that usually team up very well with Thai food. If you’re thinking of red wine, I would urge caution rather than conviction. Reds are likely to clash because they’re too powerful or have their taste diminished by the vibrant and sometimes explosive seasoning and opposing flavours of Thai cooking.

There’s hardly any wine-drinking tradition in Thailand and thus no convention about what you should or shouldn’t consume. But the custom is to drink cold beverages that are thirst quenching. A wine that refreshes the palate and tells your taste buds to get ready for what’s coming next is best. And, almost invariably, that means white wine. However, rosés too can land you good karma.

The breadth of flavours, textures and intensity levels of the Thai table is not the only worry, though. What makes wine pairing more complicated is that you might eat back and forth between plates of rice, soups, meat or fish curries and fiery salads, traditionally all served at the same time in big waves rather than in succession.

Our confining Western idea of one wine per course then no longer holds water. It seems only reasonable that wine too should be approached family-style.

A number of different bottles could be served together throughout the meal. If that’s too excessive or expensive when dining out, I suggest ordering two or three different wines by the glass to taste to and fro.

To make Thai cuisine rub with wine, you have to be unconventional and venture beyond the realms of dinner etiquette. So, here’s a flight of Maltese wines to discover wine and Thai food combinations that are as appealing as they are unlikely.

I recommend trying the dry semi-sparkling Girgentina Frizzante made exclusively by Delicata, which is perfect to begin and end the meal and together with anything stir-fried in between.

If you aren’t fond of bubbles, opt for the Medina Vermentino Zibibbo instead. Although it’s dry, this white’s extremely fruity impression on the palate matches well with already sweet dishes, Thai soups and salads, particularly if there’s lemongrass or kaffir lime in the spicing.

While unwooded Chardonnays are the best all-rounders, I love to include a delicately oak-influenced glass in my line-up, especially with satay on the menu since its flavours complement the peanut sauce. Delicata’s Grand Vin de Hauteville Chardonnay with is riper fruit and creamier palate fits the bill.

If you like red, the light-bodied, fruity yet smooth Medina blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache (which is best served slightly chilled) is a wonderful synergic match with coconut milk-infused curries like Massaman lamb or marinated chile beef Nua Pad Prik.

If it’s got to be pink, Victoria Heights Syrah Rosé is a great one-type-fits-all. It’s exactly the sort of wine that suits a variety of Thai dishes because it’s young, light on its feet, with balanced alcohol, plenty of vibrancy and a very slightly tannic finish, which resets the palate like Thai tea does.

The best advice is always to pick a versatile wine with enough obvious and bright character that makes you smile all the way through a full Thai meal.

Georges Meekers is Delicata’s head of sales and an award-winning wine writer.

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