A good wine list is one which offers a variety of wines to suit different tastes, occasions, and budgets. Balance is the key: a balance between old and new world wines, between colours, different grape varieties, wine regions, a selection of price points, a good variety of wines by the glass, and, the raison d’être of offering wine in a restaurant; a good match with the restaurant’s style and cuisine. What can elevate a good wine list to a great one, is including something fun, quirky or unusual to take customers on an adventure. Other factors which will increase engagement include adding tasting notes, interesting facts about the producer or region, or suggestions for food pairings.
When looking to pair wine with Asian food, the bold, spicy flavours and aromas which make Asian cuisines the exciting adventures they are, make for conundrums for standard pairings. One might suggest a Chardonnay for a European chicken dish, but that would be highly unsuitable for a hot and spicy Thai chicken curry. Flavours like soy and fish sauce, chilli, ginger, coriander and cumin – as wonderful as they are in Asian cuisine, they can flatten out some wines, strip them of their fruity characters, and make them taste dull, oaky, bitter and alcoholic. The best wines for most Asian cuisines are those that are high in acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Albariño and sparkling wines. Snappy, clean and vibrant, they make a great counterpoint to the flavours. Rieslings, with their minerality and citrus flavours are an excellent match. For spicy hot foods, an off-dry Riesling is perfect – the sweetness in the wine counterbalances the spicy heat. Perfumed and aromatic Torrontes from Argentina and Gewürztraminers from Germany can also perform well here.
Rosés, especially those with good acidity and a touch of sweetness can be excellent matches across a wide variety of Asian cuisines.
Red wines are trickier – better to steer away from high tannic wines, as they lose their fruit when matched with spicy food, and taste strongly of oak and alcohol. Try lighter-bodied, juicy reds like Gamay or Grenache. If you must have your Shiraz, go for one which is fruit forward with soft tannins.
In no particular order, here are our recommendations for Asian restaurants in Sydney with good wine lists:
Located on Sydney’s lower North Shore, The Rice Den is inspired by traditional Cantonese family recipes, given contemporary twists to enhance flavour. The exciting menu highlights fresh local ingredients and focuses on share style dishes. The award-winning and very well constructed wine list is curated by a talented sommelier with a passion for fine wines. There is an appealing collection by the glass, very well-priced and including a number under Coravin (a wine preservation device).
One of Sydney’s most comprehensive wine lists with many wines available by the glass. Tetsuya Wakada’s innovative and exciting merging of French and Japanese cuisine is well complemented by knowledgeable sommeliers who can guide your choice through the extensive wine list.
An award-winning restaurant offering a modern take on culinary traditions from China, Hong Kong, Japan, and South East Asia. A fantastic selection of wines by the glass, and an extensive wine list featuring wines from around the world, well chosen to suit the cuisine. China Doll won the Best Wine List (200 wines) category in the 2022 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards.
Situated in the heart of Western Sydney, Chef Giseung Kim brings his talent from 13 years with the China Doll group, artfully blending the various taste profiles of Asian cuisines. Chu Restaurant was recently awarded a chef’s hat by the Australian Good Food Guide. Following in the footsteps of its parent, China Doll, Chu also impressively won the Best Club Restaurant Wine List category in the 2022 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards.
Image Source: Chu Restaurant
Remember – a good wine list turns into a great one with the input of your sommelier. When you consult your wine staff, they can recommend the perfect matches for the dishes you’ve chosen, and perhaps even delight you with something you might have overlooked. Their experience with both the wines on their list, and the dishes served by the restaurant make them an invaluable resource, so that your meal becomes something special and memorable.
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