Pad Thai is a slightly spicy and sweet noodle dish, often containing shrimp, chicken, tofu, chopped nuts, tamarind, fish sauce and/or chilli peppers. Lighter red wines bursting with acidity like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir smooth out the spice in Pad Thai, while adding their own fruit flavours to the mix. Meanwhile crisp and citrusy whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Sylvaner impart zesty notes of lime and lemon that electrify all the delicious flavours in Pad Thai.
Dry Riesling & Pad Thai Pairing
A dry Riesling has an electric acidity about it, that is similar to a squeeze of lemon or lime. Like a highlighter, Riesling will zip across your plate and highlight the important bits, while pushing the more boring aspects back. Thus, you don’t focus on the noodles, but all those tasty bits of shrimp, chicken, tofu or curious bean sprouts that might often go unnoticed. You also don’t end up shovelling the Pad Thai into your mouth like some monster, but rather you take your time and enjoy the experience.
If your Pad Thai has some extra heat to it, try an off-dry Riesling, which will put out some of that fire as the wine has touch of sweetness to it. My personal preference is a spritzy off-dry Riesling with a bit of bubble to it. These extra bubbles offer some fun scrubbing action that makes each bite of Pad Thai taste like the first swallow. This magic happens as the crisp acidity, and the bubbles of the wine combine and clear your cheeks of all the spicy heat, and let you focus on the food’s true core flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc & Pad Thai Pairing
Any Sauvignon Blanc will go well with Pad Thai, but we prefer a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. Here you have wonderful grapefruit like acidity that imparts extra flavour on your dish. There’s also an herbaceous element that comes along with Sauvignon Blanc that adds an extra bit of complexity to the food, in a good way.
A well-made Sauvignon Blanc also has a certain cold steeliness to it, which is a nice contrast to the warm and inviting presence of Pad Thai.
Sylvaner & Pad Thai Pairing
Sylvaner, or Silvaner, as it’s sometimes spelled, is a German white wine that delivers peach and passion fruit flavours contrasted by subtle herbal notes. On the palate you have an oily texture that follows through with a crisp acidic finish.
The peach and passion fruit flavours of Sylvaner, along with its crisp acidity, help revive your taste buds from the heavy carbohydrate content of Pad Thai. All those noodles, mixed in with the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind, eventually cause a traffic jam of flavour as all those yummy flavours collide. This is easily fixed by the acidity found in Sylvaner as it scrubs those stalled flavours off your cheeks and tongue, clearing a path for new flavours to emerge. Seriously, it’s a beautiful thing, as is the price of Sylvaner, as it’s not an expensive wine.
Beaujolais & Pad Thai Pairing
Fun and fruity, Beaujolais is never a let down when paired with food of a similar nature. With Pad Thai, you have a meal just light enough to not crush Beaujolais fun loving spirit. Meanwhile, the fruity acidity in Beaujolais stirs things up and keeps your taste buds delighted as it clears the Pad Thai sauce and carbohydrate heavy noodles off your tongue. Beaujolais lacks tannin and is low in alcohol, thus if your Pad Thai is spicy, a sip of Beaujolais will help fan out the fire, rather than fuel it.
Pinot Noir & Pad Thai Pairing
Pinot Noir is a light and acidic red wine that is bursting with wild strawberry flavours and a forest floor earthiness. Typically, the earthiness is more suited towards foods featuring mushrooms, but in the case of Pad Thai, it goes well with any bean sprouts or tamarind used in the dish.
I wouldn’t say Pinot Noir is a fabulous pairing with Pad Thai, but if you had to choose a red wine, Pinot Noir will do a competent job. While Pinot Noir is light, it’s not light enough to be crushed by the subtle flavours in Pad Thai. Instead, you’re left with an enjoyable food and wine pairing that will keep the meal interesting.
Beer and Pad Thai Pairings
Many beers are wonderful with Pad Thai, particularly a Lager, Pale Ale, Pilsner, and Wheat Beer. These lighter beers have wonderful carbonation that lifts the carbohydrate-heavy noodles and sauce flavours off your taste-buds, allowing you to enjoy the subtle nuances found in the chicken, shrimp and fish sauce. Wheat Beer has an nice and careless citrusy flavour that delivers a bit of zest and spunk when paired with Pad Thai.