Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chardonnay: The only Asian option?

Recommended Posts

Is there some rule that says bad chardonnay must be served in small Asian restaurants? I am in Portland but see the same thing in Seattle. The one local restaurant (we're talking non-upscale Asian) where one could get Gewurz with Thai is now closed.

We've taken to bringing our own, with very good results so far. We ate at Koreana last night and there was no corkage! Last week at Thai Ginger it was only $5 (take that you $20 corkage rogues).

Still, when I travel (frequently) to Seattle, and when dining here in Portland, I may not always have a bottle handy. Any particular reason why the wine wholesalers can't explain that jug chardonnay is terrible with Asian? I end up with a beer but my partner doesn't drink beer. Anyone know of good, small authentic Asian in either city with a decent glass of wine? Any wine wholesalers who can enlighten me on why it is so difficult to get a few places to sell Gewurz or at maybe Pinot Blanc?


Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools

When e'er we let the wine rest.

Here's death to Prohibition's fools,

And every kind of vine-pest!

A. Bierce

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the other end of the spectrum, Wild Ginger is reputed to have one of the finest wine cellars in Seattle, and at good value pricing.

I think most of these establishments are small and don't have room to carry much of a selection, especially anything worth cellaring. Then there is also the price factor - so many people think cheap for asian food...take out...that they don't cater to wine drinkers. And you are probably right that the wholesalers do them no favors.

I am betting Tamarind Tree and Racha Noodles have some decent wine, Nishino too (I know they have some good champagne by the glass), but I don't know that I have ever ordered a glass of wine with Thai or Chinese food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I once read about a guy who worked in Chinese restaurants all of his life and ended up importing wines for Asian restaurants all over the world. The formative event for him? He was a teenager and a well-known restaurant critic laughed at him when he asked the gentleman if he would like a glass of wine with his dinner. Decades later, he watched the same critic order something off of his own wine list. :wink:

I think the thing about price is pretty much spot on. Keep in mind that finding good wine in average American restaurants is a pretty new thing here in the States and Asia isn't exactly widely known as a major wine player (though that is changing, too).

Typhoon! seems to do okay... but like Wild Ginger (a restaurant I despise), it is on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Spicy Thai for me demands sparkling wine. Mellow Vietnamese begs for something pink. Damn that sounds good right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They had some nice options when we went to Be Won although it's been a while since I was there. Not a typical noodle joint but the food and service was great. Scroll down a bit on this thread. I remember them having a very nice list of wines and all of us that went for the wine pairings were impressed.


Edited by duckduck (log)

Pamela Wilkinson


Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a restaurant manager is not knowledgeable about wine, or perceives that their customers dont focus on wine, then the supplier pretty much makes up the wine list for them.

The conversation goes like this: "Merlot is selling really well these days. How many would you like?" You wont hear discussion of food and wine pairing in that type of sales situation. It wont matter that spicy food tends to go well with sweet wines like Pinot Gris or Reisling, and tends to kill reds. You will hear discussion of price point and growth potential.

Sad, but true.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Asian restaurants are certainly not alone in this regard. A trip to your average Friday's or Bennigan's may offer 5 or 6 chardonnay wines by the glass - often to the exclusion of all other white varietals. The funny thing is, of course, is that they are all more or less the same wine with different labels so they could save some money and only offer one.

Many small ethnic restaurants have no one on their staff familiar with American wine culture and usually end up depending on local wine wholesalers to produce their wine lists for them. The wholesalers have a warehouse full of mass-produced chardonnay to get rid of and this of course equals a bunch of crappy wine lists full of chardonnay.

This is something the American wholesale wine industry can be proud of . As soon as someone trusts them to produce a good wine list for them, they screw them by filling it with wines they have to get rid of instead of wines that will match the food of the poor, trusting restaurateur.

Edited by Craig Camp (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The irony for me is that while all the mom and pops are serving jug Chard and Merlot, the hipsters have the blinders on for Riesling and Gewurtz. As if nothing else goes. It always comes back to the spice. Thing is, not every single Asian dish is spicy. When I put the wine list together of Jujube out here in NC, I built it on well balanced wines that simply go well with food in general. Certainly people want to stick to Riesling when it comes to the spicy stuff, but the rest...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had a Brooks Pinot Noir last night with our roast duck, sambal belecan long beans and rice. Went particularly well. I am not a big fan of sweetish (to my palate) white wines, so I was particularly pleased with this pairing.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...