Kama Sutra and happy endings

Wine Press NorthwestJune 15, 2012 

Living in downtown Seattle (think de-lux apartment in the sky) affords a lot of variety in restaurants, take-out and people-watching.

I keep my choices contained to a 30-yard radius. Why? I just do. Great Thai, Indian and Vietnamese exists within these confines, and every once in awhile, when I get a really twisted hair, I venture to the suburbs for a really perverse adventure.

This time, my travels took me to Redmond, where we ordered Malaysian take-out. As we unpacked, it became clear something was not right in the universe. There was no rice.

HOW CAN YOU HAVE ASIAN FOOD WITHOUT RICE?

In Oregon, you know someone will pump your gas. In Seattle, you know you will see a drug deal (at least in my neighborhood). Almost anywhere, you know your Asian take-out will have rice. But apparently, not in Redmond.

Disappointed, I contemplated the universal but not unusual question: Now what do I drink?

This juicy dish was a concoction of ripe mango and green pepper with traces of cinnamon pleasantries. Had there been white grains of goodness, I might have chosen a buttery-ish Chardonnay, but there wasn't -- so I didn't. Instead, and it really could not have been more perfect, I reached for a large glass (or three) of the Pacific Rim 2009 Dry Riesling. This wine espouses sweet undertones of jasmine and pear and is the epitome of harmony between Riesling and fiery fare. It was exactly what I needed to take the edge off my soon-to-be written Yelp review and so, I thank you Riesling gods.

Thai is my favorite take-out cuisine, and not just because the restaurant is conveniently across from my ivory tower. With a standard Pumpkin Curry order, I tend toward an unoaked, bright Chardonnay. Phelps Creek Vineyards 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, is the call and offers refreshing layers of crisp pear and lightly wet apple interspersed with bits of melon and divine purity. The finish is deep and honorable.

Another path to a happy ending is the Nota Bene Cellars 2008 Una Notte, Columbia Valley. This is a dynamic blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, which matches its white pepper merriness with the sweet, hot, sour of Thai spice. A ruby red pour gasps of cherry and red fruit, blueberry and spice. It's soft and gentle with an alluring finish that lets forever begin tonight.

Vietnamese lives a mere two blocks north in my 30-yard bubble, and the Sweet Chili Lemongrass Chicken is heavenly! This vibrant lemony zing seeks a wine with a whole bunch of intention. Chime in McKinley Springs 2009 Viognier, Horse Heaven Hills, with your trace of sweet lime and apricot. This wine is a deep plunge of palm tree succulence -- pineapple, melon, honeysuckle. Its crisp, ripe vivaciousness is a lovely counterpart to the simmer of red hot pepper. Smooth it out with a kiss of caramello for a me-love-you-long-time, glorious finish.

And for the one who's not certain of red or white, Got Pink? will do you just fine. This dazzler completes the twosome for this flavorful medley of Vietnamese tang. Juliette's Dazzle Rose boasts long, lingering legs wrapped in a gorgeous curve of willingness. A sexy wine by Long Shadows' design, this is one way to tame that chili zest madness.

Indian cuisine presents a challenge of harnessing spice and heat with the discord of sweetness. Well, you know how I love a good challenge, not to mention (breaking news) I have a growing affection for this culture. So discovering a wine to match the intensity of turmeric, coriander and cumin and the intrigue of saffron, cardamom and chili pepper sounded exhilarating. A smooth explosion of Walla Walla Faces 2009 Teri & the German, Columbia Valley, is the one. Bright pear, apricot and nutmeg offer a bold, sweet essence that penetrates the sparkle of real fiery spice. A trickle of banana on the finish makes for a love potion of flavor in a glass. Remember, we are talking about the culture of Kama Sutra.

And speaking of exotic, another lovely is the Kennedy Shah 2011 Rose of 100 percent Mourvedre. This stunning dry rose shows delicate plumes of pomegranate, plum and slate. It whispers gentle elegance as it slowly encounters the signature herbiness of white peppery sage brought to you only by the essence of Mourvedre.

Chinese, for me, is the interminable search for the perfect dumpling. And this search, of course, does not end with finding it. Once found, a new search begins for the perfect wine -- which takes into account whether the bun is steamed, boiled or fried. What's inside? Is it savory, spicy or sweet? Oh forget it! I'm throwing down. A soft, steamed pocket stuffed with pork, chicken, shrimp or guinea pig is a great match with a decanted Evesham Wood 2010 Pinot Noir. Not too light, not too dark, in fact, just right. Ribbons of earth and cherry wind through strawberry fields forever with vibrant acidity marking the sweet spot.

And, finally Japanese. Reveal: Sushi has been off my radar ever since I had a bad experience with it and red wine, which had little to do with the sushi. So thank the street dog gods for Gourmet Dog Japon -- where Japanese toppings take hot dogs to a whole new level. The stand is across from my house (on the way to the Thai place) and offers exotic toppings from nori to bonito flakes, from pickled ginger to wasabi. You're left with nothing short of a mouthful of sweet, spicy, fishy and spice-beyond-belief. What wine makes the most sense? Beer.

Finally one last question: HOW CAN YOU HAVE ASIAN FOOD WITHOUT RICE?

With sass and attitude, TERI CITTERMAN is a Seattle dweller and an eager wine enthusiast. She is the author of the latest edition of Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest and the Northwest Wine Journal. She writes An Urban Sip Wine Blog at anurbansip.com.

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