We receive scant advice from the countries of Asia on pairing wine with their spicier foods because they cannot offer much; they commonly drink other beverages at table. But those same beverages — water, light tea, broth, sometimes beer — give us clues to which wines might pair best. It's easy to say which won't: heavy, high-alcohol, tannic reds.
But light-bodied, low-alcohol, refreshing white and pink wines, sometimes sparkling, are delicious with fiery Asian dishes. They temper chili heat, cleanse and reboot the palate, and demur to the more forceful flavors already bounding from the kitchen.
The food: Quick Thai green curry
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat; add 2 minced shallots and 1 tablespoon minced ginger. Stir-fry until fragrant, 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium; stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste and 1 cup chicken broth; cook until broth is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups sliced cooked chicken, 1 can (16 ounces) coconut milk, 1 can (8 ounces) sliced bamboo shoots, drained, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; simmer, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup shredded basil. Serve over rice with lime wedges. Makes: 4 servings
2010 Frecciarossa Riesling "Gli Orti," Oltrepo Pavese, Italy: Super-dry northern Italian style, with wafts of minerals, spice and cellared riesling's "petrol" coming through; tingly closing acidity. $20
2011 Terrunyo Sauvignon Blanc "Block 28," Casablanca, Chile: A wine uninterested in dining solo, its squeegee-like acidity on the lookout for foods layered in flavor, heat, sugar and fat, with buckets of flavor and aroma to add to the table. $20
2012 Chateau la Gordonne Rosé, Cotes de Provence, France: Buoyant blend of grenache and syrah, good-looking pale pink, fresh and open of scent and savor; most important: crisp, clean finish. $15
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers