Vine Talk: Unconventional wisdom? Spicy crab and red wine

Tue Jun 1, 2010 6:02am EDT
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By Curtis Marsh

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - When it comes to enjoying wine with bold Asian cuisines there really are no rules -- and certainly no room for the traditional notion of whites with seafood and reds with meat.

Show me any wine and I will find an element of spice or herb infused within it. That is my unequivocal reply to the incessantly recurring question I am asked, "Does wine go with Asian food?"

Indeed, most grape varieties intrinsically display a multitude of spice nuances in aroma or flavor, some more than others.

I normally follow this proclamation with a remonstration on using the gross generalization "Asian Food" which I find confounding, if not disrespectful of the multitudes of Asian cuisines and cultures.

In fairness the question is generally directed to spicy Asian food, that is dishes that are have a degree of invigorating heat derived from the capsaicin sting of chili or the persistent warmth and myriad of profound flavors in peppers and Asian spices.

There exists a widely held belief that wine and spicy Asian dishes simply do not match, a perturbing misconception if not bemusing to some of the more wine savvy markets such as Singapore.

To the contrary, with its multi-regional influenced and relatively feisty cuisines - Peranakan, Malay, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, Sri Lankan - Singaporeans are fast-learning that wine brings these cuisines alive, in some instances enhancing the flavors and spices, in others providing refreshing attributes that stimulates the appetite and tempers the pungency.

Alas, it was perplexing to hear some wine experts saying that some foods, such as Singapore's iconic chili or black pepper crab dishes, are simply better enjoyed without wine, and that a cold beer or water would be more thirst-quenching.   Continued...