Perfect Pairings: Thai Phanaeng Curry and Dr. Loosen 2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

What just happened.EXPAND
What just happened.
Photo by Kate McLean
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Appreciating Thai food with Riesling is like one, long, seamless thought. Which makes us wonder, in which bar and where in the world did a Thai meet a handsome German and what song was it they slow danced too… I'd like to think it wasn't something by Ed Sheeran.

People who enjoy Thai food get really excited when they've decided they're about to enjoy Thai food. That's because dishes like Phanaeng, so well balanced, so addicting, are only protected by social graces from a pack of wolves-type situation. And if you're dining solo take-out style, then all bets are off.

The Houston Press investigates this pairing via a takeout order from Morningside Thai:

Thai Phanaeng Curry + Dr. Loosen 2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Rich with coconut milk, while light-footed with notes of kaffir lime and lemongrass, the Phanaeng heat starts off like a warm hug that finishes with a tight squeeze. It's a type of red curry that in combination with the previous flavors is seasoned with shrimp paste, fish sauce and a hint of peanut. Honestly, I'd be happy with just the sauce and some vegetables over rice I realized as I kept dodging thin strips of well-done chicken breast. The boldness of this dish makes you very thirsty, which not many wines can stand up too. But the noble Riesling can and does.

Chicken Phanaeng takeout from Morningside Thai.EXPAND
Chicken Phanaeng takeout from Morningside Thai.
Photo by Kate McLean

Of course, it depends on how and where it's grown, but Rieslings are characteristically bright with acid, layered with ripe stone fruit and whether it's "dry" or not, do finish sweetly. A good dry German Riesling, Dr. Loosen 2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese; was a killer choice. Spätlese refers to the way in which it was grown; "late picked," which attests to the deep trail of flavor. Certainly bright and mildly acidic, it finishes tartly with the subtle type of sweetness that isn't instantly familiar. Not honey-like, not sugar-like, a flavor more like nectar; natural and rejuvenating. Tropical fruits, also very efflorescent, like guava and pineapple, are pleasantly evident. This single vineyard Riesling is a great introduction into the best of the best as far as this grape is concerned.

A doctor I know and trust.EXPAND
A doctor I know and trust.
Photo by Kate McLean

Pretty soon, all that was heard was the clinking of metal on ceramic and quiet slurps. Enjoyed together, the warm heat of Phanaeng and cold Dr. Loosen Riesling, both intricately floral, is a moment that warrants fierce repetition until you run out or roll over.

Phanaeng typically costs between $12 and $14, while Dr. Loosen 2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese can be found at Houston Wine Merchant at around $32.99. There are a lot of good Thai restaurants in Houston, some of them BYOB, some of them with delivery, which makes this exact combination, one I highly recommend, doable.

The Houston Press is searching for perfect food pairings and where they can be found. We welcome reader suggestions and ask you to send them to dish@houstonpress.com.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.