Wine and Asian food

Asian food in general, and Thai in particular is murderously difficult to pair with wine.

My fave with spicy food is Amontillado sherry served ice cold, but I’ve never yet found that on a menu. Jammy Australian wine works well. There’s no point in getting too expensive as the spice will overpower most wines. (Think cheap critter wine that all wine snobs sneer at.)

Most of us, me included drink beer with such fare. And by default in a Thai place you can expect Singha, maybe Tiger (Singapore) or even Tsing Tao (Chinese.) All of these are essentially German lagers – the base recipe and brewmaster for all three was in fact German.

But the idea of adding some sweetness had me pick up some different brews to try out my theory.

If you’ve never tried them, Innis and Gunn, a Scottish brewery is making beer the way it was made until about 60 years ago, which is to say in wood barrels. Wood adds a mellower set of flavours to the brew.

If you’re not a Brit Bitter – or a Bitter Brit for that matter – drinker you will probably prefer I&G’s Blonde. If you’re a dark beer person, you must try their Triple Matured brew, an amazingly rich beer filled with flavours of chocolate and coffee. The Original is a standard bitter, with a silkier palate and heavier mouth feel due to the oak.

I am a lager drinker these days and can’t drink more than one of I&G’s Original or Triple Matured by themselves. But I tried all three, and a Singha lager with my yum salad and pad pad chicken. The results were surprising.

The Singha serves as a refresher, a contrast to the food. But the smoother heavier bitters were a real compliment. In particular I found the Original, and Triple Matured were excellent with the meals. They were both a great accompaniment, particularly the Triple Matured, and – to my amazement – the best at quenching the fire of the peppers.

I’ll leave it up to you to experiment, although I’d be very interested in hearing any readers’ insights.

Royal Thai’s in Saskatoon was the location of my test. Their decor is peaceful, with a non-intrusive Buddhist temple sort of theme. They offer a lunch buffet that makes a great escape from the office if you need some time alone or with a colleague.

I recommend the place if you find yourself out west.


  1. Speaking of beer…. on a visit to my sister’s house, we were treated to beer from a Quebec brewery – coffee-flavored 9.25% beer, and a peppercorn flavored brew. Can I buy something like these in Saskatchewan?

  2. absolutely. Check out Cava Secreta’s beer stock. The riverside corner of the farmers’ market at AVe A & 19th ave.

    Personally I find those barleywines too much but if that’s where yer going…

    By the way Guiness qualifies as a low cal beer in most locales. True. Low cals, tons of vits. hence brew for nursing mothers.

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