Pad Thai is one of the most popular noodle dishes served around the world today, and with good reason! This unique Thai dish is full of complex layers of flavor, as many bold ingredients combine into one cohesive bite.
While the heavy flavors of peanut and shrimp can make for an intimidating wine pairing, finding a harmonious balance between wine and pad thai dishes can be simplified by sticking to certain wine styles.
Some of the best pad thai wine pairings involve light and refreshing wines that are crisp and full of bright acidity.
Top Choices for Pad Thai Wine Pairings
Riesling is one of the most diverse wine grapes on the planet and can be used to make everything from lusciously sweet dessert wines to bone-dry minerality-driven bottles of white wine. Some of the best representations of the Riesling grape in the world are grown in Germany.
Dry Rieslings make for great pad thai pairings because of the naturally high levels of acidity that are present in the wine. This plays with the bold acidity of the lime in the entree while working in harmony with the peanuts and crunchy vegetables for a cohesive and balanced bite.
Wine Folly is one of the most popular and trusted online publications today when it comes to online wine education, and they have highlighted dry Rieslings in their “Wine With Thai Food” pairing guide. The author points out that the low ABV on Riesling makes it great with spicy food.
Loosen Bros Dr. L Riesling is a widely distributed bottle of dry Riesling that makes for a fantastic pairing with Thai takeout and casual dinners. It offers the refined balance and acidity one would expect from the Mosel region of Germany at under $20 per bottle.
F E Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile is another German Riesling that has gained popularity all over the world and makes for a fantastic pad thai pairing. It has won many high profile international wine awards and has gained attention from many of the top wine critics.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular white wine grapes in the entire world and makes for a great Thai food pairing due to its punchy acidity and light body. Some of the best Sauvignon Blanc candidates for pad thai pairings hail from the South Island of New Zealand.
The Marlborough region of New Zealand has gained international acclaim for producing a unique Sauvignon Blanc that carries intense fruit flavors on the nose. Many enthusiasts describe the aroma as similar to peaches or grapefruit, which make for interesting pairings.
These wines are a favorite among sommeliers around the globe when it comes to tricky wine pairings, as these fruity aromas lead to unique and food-friendly tasting notes. Esteemed sommelier Lara Creasy highlights this particular pairing in a recent serious eats guide.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first wines from the Marlborough region to truly “breakthrough” on the international market. It carries the region’s quintessential grapefruit aromas and can be found at restaurants and retailers all over the globe.
Another popular bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that makes for a great pad thai pairing is Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc. This affordable bottle of dry white wine is full of citrus-tasting notes which play perfectly with bold and spicy Thai noodle dishes.
The Gamay grape produces easy-drinking red wines that are balanced and fairly low in tannin. The most famous bottles of Gamay hail from the French region of Beaujolais, which many wine experts and sommeliers regard as one of the best-kept secrets in the entire world of wine.
Many of the dry red wines of Beaujolais are made using a rustic practice called carbonic maceration, where full grapes are fermented before crushing or pressing. This gives these wines a distinct delightfully sweet taste, which many wine lovers compare to bubblegum.
The most accessible and affordable bottles of Gamay from this region are made at the “village” level, where bottles can usually be purchased for under $15. These easy-drinking red wines make for a great spicy food pairing, as they are fairly low in alcohol and quite fruity.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages is one of the most popular and widely distributed bottles of Gamay in the world, and it has gained popularity due to its combination of affordability and approachability. This easy-drinking light bottle of red goes great with many different Thai dishes.
Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages is another affordable bottle of Gamay that carries fruity aromas and tasting notes. These layers of fruit flavor add complexity and depth to acidic and spicy noodle dishes like pad thai.
When it comes to pairing wine and food, Rosé is a style of wine that is often overlooked. These light pink wines are known to showcase the light body and drinkability of white wines, while still providing moderate levels of tannin and complexity due to the limited skin contact.
While some of the best and most famous bottles of Rosé in the world are produced in the Provence region of France, there are many new world wine countries that have embraced the production of pink wines as well.
The United States is one of the most quickly growing and promising countries in the world of wine when it comes to the production of high-quality Rosé wines. Some of the best examples are made using Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Grenache grapes.
Balletto 2019 Estate Grown Estate Bottled Rosé of Pinot Noir is one of the most highly regarded bottles of American Rosé currently on the market, and its light body and subtle balanced notes of red fruit make for an ideal pairing with bold dishes like pad thai.
Another Rosé from the United States that makes for a fantastic pad thai pairing is Hosmer Dry Rosé. This affordable bottle of Rosé is produced using the Cabernet Franc grape, which gives it unique and complex tasting notes that pair very well with a variety of Thai dishes.
When it comes to wine and food pairings, sparkling wines offer texture and adaptability that is virtually impossible to match with any other style of wine. Certain types of food are well suited for sparkling wine pairings, while others (like heavy red meat-based dishes) should be avoided.
One of the most popular, affordable, and food-friendly styles of sparkling wine is Prosecco. Prosecco is often full of bold fruit flavors like melon and green apple skin, and the wine carries enough acidity to refresh and “cleanse” the palate while dining.
Sparkling wines from California often carry “nutty” tasting notes such as cashew and toasted almond. These Californian sparkling wines make for great pad thai pairings due to the chopped nuts and earthy flavors of the dish, which play perfectly with the wine.
La Marca Prosecco is an affordable and widely available bottle of sparkling wine that makes for a fantastic pad thai pairing due to its large bubbles and fruity tasting notes. The bubbles add texture to the already crunchy noodle dish, while the fruit flavors add complexity to the palate.
Chandon Brut Sparkling is one of the most popular bottles of American sparkling wine currently on the market, and it is often served at casual Thai restaurants. It is extremely food friendly and adds a delicious layer of depth to the peanuts similar to that of toasted nuts.
Pad Thai is a phenomenal spicy and acidic noodle-based dish that has gained popularity all over the world.
While some wine enthusiasts may be intimidated by the idea of finding a wine pairing for this bold and “in-your-face” Thai dish, there are many different common styles of wine that make for great pairings.
The two most important rules are to use low tannin wines with moderate levels of alcohol when it comes to spicy food pairings, and pairings are made fairly simple by sticking to these guidelines.