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Need a Sweet Wine to Pair With Spicy Thai Food? Alinea Sommelier Jill Zimorski Recommends a Bordeaux.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Bordeaux Wine. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

Sommelier Jill Zimorski started as a restaurant manager. As is customary in many smaller restaurants, she was the go-to for wine and cocktail recommendations. It wasn't until she started working at Charlie Palmer in Washington, D.C., that she realized she could turn her interest in wine into a career. Today, she's the sommelier at Alinea in Chicago. She visited her favorite BYO restaurant with a bottle of Bordeaux to clear up some misconceptions about the wine's affordability and diversity.

The inspiration for my pairing at Andy's Thai Kitchen in Chicago was two-fold: One, to shatter the myth that sweet, white Bordeaux (typically Sauternes) is a wine best served with cheese or dessert, and two, to provide an alternative to the savvy diners who already understand that a wine with residual sugar is a great foil to aromatic, spicy heat in foods. All too often, the go-to wine to complete that pairing is a sweet Riesling, and while that is a great match, the sweet wines of Bordeaux make a killer match for spicy Thai cuisine.

I chose a 2010 Chateau la Rame, "Traditionelle" Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. Sainte-Croix-du-Mont's appellation requirements are nearly identical to Sauternes, which require a minimum of 45 g/L of residual sugar. The wine is sweet, but still less than a Coca-Cola, people.

While it is sweet, it is not sticky. It's full of ripe, rich, tropical, and candied citrus fruit flavors and aromas. Think golden pineapple, Meyer lemon, candied grapefruit rind, and tangerine. The fickle, flavor-enhancing mold that grows on the grapes, Botrytis, adds light honey and ginger notes.

My food selections for this pairing included:

- Sai Krog Issan: Thai Fermented rice and pork sausage served with ginger, Thai chili, peanuts, and cabbage
- Tom Ka: Coconut soup with galangal, mushroom, tomato, onion, cilantro, and chicken
- Basil Crispy Pork Belly: Stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil, garlic, mushrooms, and chili
- Duck Curry: red curry with duck, pineapple, grapes, and tomatoes
- Pineapple Fried Rice: stir-fried rice with yellow curry, shrimp, cashews, and raisins

The score? I could not have been happier with my choices for both food and wine. The richness of the Sémillon lends a weight and mouth-coating feel that, along with the sugar, balances the heat of the spicy dishes. All of the ginger, galangal, pineapple, and coconut flavors in the meal were enhanced but not overshadowed by the wine.

The flavors sing together, and I  kept going back for more. I think this pairing is a magical combination where both the food and wine taste better together, which frankly, is the pairing dream.

Chateau La Rame 2010
Appellation: Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
Blend: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc
Price: $28 (375ml)
Tasting notes: Sweet citrus (Meyer lemon and tangerine), ripe golden pineapple, honey, and ginger.

Discover Bordeaux

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Bordeaux Wine. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.


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