Wine? Of course not. Heady, spicy Thai flavors would kill the delicate nuances. Give it a try, though, and you'll find that some Thai/wine pairings actually do work, and work well.
One place to check this out is Ayara Thai Cuisine in Westchester, which is introducing a serious wine list this month.
"We wanted to to find a way to bring wine to Thai food in a friendly, non-pretentious way," said Vanda Asapahu (right) of the family that owns the restaurant. Previously, Ayara offered only the usual unchallenging mass market wines expected in such places.
To check out its new concept, the restaurant held a tasting (at top), pairing seven wines with Thai foods in a range of styles--spicy, sweet, sour, salty, creamy, delicate, soft, crisp.
The sommelier, Courtney Walsh, looked beyond Riesling, which is a common choice with spicy cuisines, for something "a little different."
The supplier was Revel Wine, which specializes in handmade small production wines, meaning as few as 50 cases. "Think of craft beer. This is craft wine," said Bennett Traub, from Revel.
Here are the dishes they had to match. The wines follow.
How did the wines perform?
The 2014 Poe Sonoma rosé (above), made from old vine Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, and the 2013 Precedent Chenin Blanc "Sec" from the Clements Hills in Lodi were overpowered by the vibrant flavors. They would have been okay with milder dishes.
If any wine excelled, it was Turbullent, a sparkling French Gamay rosé from vigneron Stephane Sérol, that pitted bubbles and bright acidity against strong flavors.
An aromatic white wine that did well was the 2013 Brooks Amycas, a blend of Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Riesling and Pinot Gris from Oregon with muscat notes that stood out.
The obvious matches for them were the Tigers Cry steak and crisp pork belly with Chinese broccoli, but they held up with almost everything.
The 2013 Broc Cellars Counoise, a grape used more for blending than as a varietal, was the first red poured. This Mendocino wine is fruit forward and medium in body. "Tannins you don't want with Thai food," Walsh commented.
Poco a Poco, a 2014 Mendocino Grenache from Porter-Bass in Guerneville, easily cut through rich fats. This wine is not on Ayara's new list, which will change every few months. It was chosen to pair with a weekend special, hung lay curry from northern Thailand.
At the end, tasters filled out forms evaluating the wines they had tasted, then relaxed with the final dish, one they didn't have to pair with wine. It was the popular Thai dessert mangoes and sticky rice with coconut sauce (above).
Ayara Thai Cuisine, 6245 W. 87th St., Westchester, CA 90045. (310) 410-8848.