Popular and versatile, Thai food, especially curry, enjoys a devout following and year round palate appeal. However, the various spice combinations that create today’s modern curries can be tricky to pair with alcoholic drinks. From the sundry streaks of heat to the more mild mannered versions of this super savory ethnic dish, the rich mosaic of curry-influenced recipes often call for completely different drinks.
Drinks that don’t compete with the spice but seek to support and complement the innate variety. To that end we have picked the best beer, cocktails and wine for pairing on the Thai Curry front.
Best Beer for Thai Curry:
Lemon, ginger, hot pepper, coconut milk and the incredible flavors of kaffir lime leaf are often blended to form the intriguing base of many Thai curry dishes. This heady mix of flavors calls for a special beer. Big, malty, sour and complex Belgian golden strong ale is just that beer. This particular style of Belgian beer partners well with the assorted flavors of curry without overpowering or clashing with the intricate spice. The lemongrass and sour in the beer blend provide a complementary pairing while the mild bitterness springing from the hops offers a palate contrast to the creamy textures and sweeter flavors of the coconut milk. Beers with less palate presence, showing more subtle characteristics would not be able to stand up to the high-volume flavors of the spicier curries.
Beers to Try with Curry:
Duvel Belgian Strong Pale Ale, Damnation Golden Ale from Russian River Valley Brewing Company, Fat Tire’s Amber Ale and Pranqster from North Coast Brewing Company.
Best Cocktails for Curry:
Many Thai curry recipes are so complex that the simplest cocktails, which are also rich in flavor tend work best. To cool down the heat of the dish, drinks with strong fruit bases are ideal and in the Moroccan Cocktail you get the lush pomegranate flavor but a little cardamom for spice that would pair with a Thai Chicken Curry dish nicely. Another option is to go with a drink like the Hello Kitty. This one combines the sake-based liqueur TY KU with refreshing lemon juice that should chill out the palate. On the dry side, any Thai dish is excellent with a Saketini.
Best Wine to Pair with Thai Curry:
While there are any number of tasty curry spice creations, many carry the warming elements of ginger and clove along with cumin and coriander wrapped in a touch of heat. This potential for heat steers the wine choices to those wines that show just a bit of sweet on the palate. A touch of residual sugar will take any fiery components, allowing fuller, brighter flavor nuances to show through. AlsatianGerwurztraminer, with its own heady combination of nutmeg and cinnamon aromas, promises to play particularly well with all levels of Thai Curry. Also consider a German Riesling, the higher levels of residual sugar and elevated acidity will handle the intense flavors without muting the overall presentation of the dish. Need a red wine or two to serve with curry? Look no further, than the fresh and fruity styles coming out of Beaujolais. Low tannins, crisp acidity, and ripe, forward fruit, make Beaujolais a win-win with curried beef. Or give the robust flavors of black pepper and dark fruit of California Zinfandel a swirl with lamb curry themes. If you want to opt for a more traditional rice wine find, you can’t go wrong with Sake.
Wines to Try with Curry:
DeLoach Russian River Zinfandel, Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages, Fritz Haag Riesling, Hugel Gewurztraminer, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Trimbach Gewurztraminer