Whether modern pan-Asian fusion cuisine or classic dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, India or regional China: Austria has the right wines for every dish. The following shows the diversity of Austrian wines, and features several easy-to-understand examples.
The firm, robust Grüner Veltliner is clearly the most universal food companion. With its full, balanced body and its power and finesse, Grüner Veltliner is the ideal companion for an array of Asian dishes prepared in a variety of ways. Whether fish or meat, fish appetizers or even classic Dim Sum and Spring Rolls – there is perfect harmony. This wine stands up so well to sharp flavours and, with its well-integrated acidity, is incredibly refreshing on the palate. And in its full-bodied form, Grüner Veltliner with balance, mature acidity – and no oaky flavour, of course – is incomparably sublime when paired with umami-rich foods.
This is also true for some of Austria’s regional stars like Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, Roter Veltliner, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) or Neuburger, when vinified in the same style as Grüner Veltliner. Fruit-accented wines like Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc go especially well with appetizers. And sometimes, a touch of residual sweetness can be a harmonious advantage. Of course, barrique-matured Chardonnays can be matched wonderfully with powerful meat and fish dishes.
In addition to these fabulous white wines, more and more Austrian red wines are demonstrating how they enhance Oriental menus as well – especially because intensely spicy dishes demand more fruit, but light tannins. Moreover, luscious sweet wines from Austria make impeccable partners for an array of eastern foods, for example, Indian curries and Tandoori dishes.
Spices and Wine
Here you can find the Dishes.
A variety of fiery spices come to the fore in Asian dishes. Chili requires sweetness and extract from a wine, to lessen the searing heat. Robust Grüner Veltliner or Riesling with well-integrated acidity are nicely suited, as are indigenous & full-bodied Rotgipfler, Zierfandler or Roter Veltliner. The residual sugar and fruit of a Beerenauslese also cool the fire, while cherry-toned Zweigelt is an ideal partner for intense Sichuan cuisine. Generally speaking, wines should not have too much acidity or tannin, and white wines ought to have a bit of bottle age.
The pungency of pepper shows many faces, with aromas ranging from floral to earthy. Sichuan peppercorns cause a fruity, electric burn on the palate. Peppery wines harmonise well, enhancing the spice of the dish and adding a harmonious exchange with their fruit: for white wine especially Grüner Veltliner and for red, Blaufränkisch.P
A curry contains highly aromatic spices such as turmeric, cumin & coriander. The heat will vary depending on the number of peppercorns or chilis used. White wines with mild acidity and warm fruit like Roter Veltliner, Rotgipfler or Zierfandler support the aromatic complexity of curry, as does Grüner Veltliner from loess soils or Weissburgunder with its exotic nuances. If the curry is mild and nutty, a racy-fruity Schilcher can bring it to radiance.
Cask-matured whites in the Reserve category – with their hints of tobacco, vanilla or roasted hazelnuts – harmonise quite effectively with nut flavours. The sweet & opulent, earthy/fruity aromas of coconut, peanuts & sesame complement a medium-weight, refreshing Grüner Veltliner or Riesling, while a not-too-light Wiener Gemischter Satz cuts a fine figure. An elegant Sankt Laurent with its delicate tannins can offer a fine counterbalance to the solid weight of nuts.
Acid in the dish adds itself to acidity in the wine, so caution is advised with wines that feature a racy acid backbone. Whites should be fully mature in order to successfully present their fruit & sweetness alongside the acidity of citrus. If the citrus elements come, for instance, from lime zest, kaffir leaves or lemon grass, the acid in the wine can be slightly higher – provided that the food contains no bitter substances and has a bit of fat. If the wine reveals hints of lemon zest in the nose, these will intensify the citrus in the dish.
In Thailand, Vietnam or India, fresh herbs such as Thai basil, coriander or mint often impart both spice and freshness to the dish. The inherent aroma of the herbs is emphasised, if the wine shows vegetable notes too, as Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner and some Rieslings often do. Even whites from the Pinot family can elegantly complement herbs with their subtle aromas of hay, but any wood should be moderate and well-integrated. Even some red cuvées can exhibit animated spiciness or herbal notes; with appropriate bottle age, they complement herbs in the dish quite beautifully.
Our closest English word is ‘savoury’, and umami is regarded as the fifth of the four flavours. It is noticeably present in the algae of nori-wraps and in dried shiitake mushrooms – also in the soy, oyster & fish sauces so popular in Asia. The greater part these sauces play in the dish, the more authoritative the wine can be. High acidity in white wine is disturbing, as are prominent tannins in reds. Fine & nutty Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) or Neuburger offer good choices for the umami palate.