Wine and Asian Food: A Problem Solved

The other evening I conducted a culinary experiment, an attempt to replicate a dish I had encountered in one of those Asian-fusion restaurants that are so trendy at the moment. It was a simple piece of Chilean sea bass cooked in soy-sauce broth—recipe below—and while I have to admit experiment turned out very well, there was one problem: The wine I drank with it just wasn't up to the job.

It was a California chardonnay, and it would have been fine in different circumstances, but not with Asian food. Wine evolved in Europe in conjunction with European food, and the two complement each other, sometimes to brilliant effect, with the wine's fresh-fruit acidity providing the perfect foil for the food's high fat content.

East Asian food, on the other hand, has less fat and tends to be sweeter, a combination that plays havoc with most wine. But not all wine.

So, in preparation for my second attempt at this culinary masterpiece, I went in search of a wine from Alsace. This region's wines, especially the tongue-twisting gewürztraminers—tongue-twisting in terms of pronunciation, not flavor, I hasten to add—are worth exploring because their explosive fruit flavors and touch of sweetness make them ideal with Asian food.

After a couple of false starts—too sweet, too dry—I alighted on the perfect wine, Marc Kreydenweiss's Kritt Gewürztraminer 2006 ($41) Quite astoundingly rich and voluptuous, deep gold color and the viscosity of fine honey. O.K., I exaggerate, but in appearance it could be mistaken for a sauterne. Just overflowing with succulent tropical fruit flavors, all peaches and cantaloupes, lichees, mangoes, and pineapples…but, but, despite all this rich fruit on the front palate, and a quite high level of residual sugar, there is a countervailing balance of finely hued bracing acidity.

And as if that weren't enough, behind all this lush fruit lurks a tantalizing woody, smoky minerality that perhaps, if one has the patience—for this wine is surely a long-lived beauty—will emerge and assert itself, turning an already luscious wine into a deeply complex and astounding one.


2 servings 2/3 lb. Chilean sea bass, skin and bones removed2 Tbsp. dry sherry2 Tbsp. soy sauce1 tsp. powdered ginger1/2 clove crushed garlic2 Tbsp. salad oil

Whisk together in a small saucepan all ingredients except the fish.

Add the fish and spoon the liquid over it. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Bring to boil over medium flame, and cook for a couple of minutes till the fish is just beginning to flake apart.

Serve over spinach wilted with garlic.

When to Drink: Now, and for the next 10 years. Breathing/Decanting: Not necessary.Food Pairing: East Asian food, sweet fruits, blue cheese.Grapes: GewürztraminerAppellation: AlsaceRegion: AlsaceCountry: FrancePrice: $41Availability: LimitedWeb Site:

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