Welcome to the world of delightful flavours where the vibrant food culture of Singapore meets the elegance of wine. Our famous hawker culture, awarded UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on 16 Dec 2020, offers something for even the pickiest eater.
Heavily influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures, you encounter a range of taste profiles from savoury and sweet to spicy curries. In this article, we’ll embark on a flavourful journey, exploring the art of wine pairing with various Singaporean dishes, and discovering how the right wine can complement and enhance the flavours of this delectable cuisine.
Understanding Wine Pairing Basics
Before diving into pairing wines with Singaporean food, it’s crucial to grasp the fundamental principles of wine pairing:
1. Balance: Aim for harmony between the wine’s characteristics and the flavours of the food. The wine should neither overpower nor be overshadowed by the dish.
2. Acidity: Consider the acidity of both the wine and the food. A wine with high acidity can cut through the richness of certain dishes, creating a balanced palate.
3. Sweetness: Sweetness in food can accentuate bitterness in wine and vice versa. Find complementary pairings to enhance the overall experience.
4. Spice: Singaporean cuisine is known for its vibrant spices. Seek wines that can handle and complement these complex flavours.
Pairing Wine with Iconic Singaporean Dishes
1. Hainanese Chicken Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice, a national favourite in Singapore, boasts tender poached chicken, fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth and a trio of savoury sauces. For this dish, opt for a light and crisp white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc. Its acidity balances the richness of the chicken, while its floral and fruity notes complement the dish’s fragrant aromas.
2. Chilli Crab
Pairing wine with the spicy tomato-based sauce of Chili Crab can be tricky; hence opt for a German Riesling. The acidity of the Riesling will cut through the richness of the sauce while the residual sugar balances out the chili spices.
3. Char Kway Teow
This wok-hei and sweet-savoury stir-fried noodles dish is a common find is most hawker stores where various wine pairing works well with this dish. If you are looking for a white to pair with it, Chenin Blanc would be a good match as the crisp, expressive and light-bodied wine can cut through the oiliness of the dish. If you prefer a red wine pairing, you can explore wines from Rhone, which have charming liquorice and fruity aromas.
Laksa is a rich and complex noodle dish with rich coconut-based broth that has a complex blend of spices and aromatic garnish of laksa leaves. Hence, you will need a wine that can hold its own. Gewürztraminer’s palate is fresh and fruity yet ample and round. A touch of sweetness in wine always helps to make it more pleasurable on the palate when eating spicy food.
Satay’s charred, wok-hei goodness with its rich peanut sauce served with cucumber and onion on the side, is very popular especially at Lau Pa Sat where the whole road is closed and transforms into “Satay Street” at night. Like many Americans who love to pair their BBQ food with Zinfandel, the spicy noted of the wine complements really well with satay.
In Singapore, the melting pot of flavours comes alive, offering a gastronomic adventure like no other. Pairing wine with familiar local flavours does seem out of the norm but keep experimenting until you find your own taste and preference. Don’t be afraid to get creative as you might just discover something groundbreaking!
Alternatively, you can reach out to us at 75cl, where our wine experts will share our best-kept secrets in food pairing with your favourite local food cuisine. Cheers to good wine and food!