Pairing Wine with Singaporean Food — A Straits Wine Guide
Singapore is known to be a cultural melting pot and of course Singaporean food is similarly diverse and delicious. Whether it’s our famously fierce hawker culture (hello UNESCO heritage bid) or incredible list of Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s something from every picky eater. But today we’ll focus on Singaporean cuisine, which is influenced by Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures. With taste profiles that run the gamut from savoury, sweet, sour, spicy to umami, it may seem daunting to find wines that pair well with the local fare. Just keep a few basic rules in mind, and you’ll be able to unlock some killer combinations (and savings!) for your next dinner party.
Rules of Wine Pairing
According to Wine Folly, the five basic wine characteristics are sweetness, acidity, tannin, fruit, and body; and here are three easy tips to follow:
- Wines with low tannins work better with spicy food like laksa and sambal stingray, as tannins are known to clash with the spices and salt typically used while intensifying the heat sensation in a dish
- For savoury, aromatic dishes like bak chor mee, a light to medium-bodied white wine with pronounced fruit flavours and high acidity pairs the best, giving a refreshing vibrancy that balances the sugar, salt and umami flavours
- Less fruity wines are good, neutral accompaniments but will not necessarily enhance the meal
With that in mind, here are a few recommended pairings to get you started:
Best White Wine Pairings
White wine is known to pair best with roasted meats such as salmon, chicken and turkey. Leaning into that concept, many of our favourite hawker dishes such as chicken rice and Cantonese roasted meats go superbly well with refreshing and zesty whites like the Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio Riserva Mongris 2017 while seafood with higher fat content like charcoal-grilled salmon match whites with a fuller body like the De Grendel Viognier 2020. Creamy dishes like palak paneer also pair well with white wine; to cut through the richness of the cheese, you need a wine with more acidity, like Saint & Scholar Sauvignon Blanc 2019.
Best Red Wine Pairings
Typically, when people imagine red wine food pairings, they almost immediately think of steak and other red meats. And that’s generally true! But they also pair well with flavourful, spicy dishes like curries and chilli crab. Go for low tannin varietals such as Grenache and Shiraz as these wines will not necessarily intensify the spice while its juicy notes will uplift the full flavours of the dish. The Vino Volta “Post Modern Seriousism” Grenache 2020’s fruity notes work particularly well with the moreish, spicy laksa broth while the peppery Yarra Yerring’s Underhill Shiraz 2016 pairs well with mildly spicy, sweeter dishes such as chilli crab.
Best Champagne Pairings
Our favourite sparkling is usually had at the start (or sometimes right at the tail end) of a meal, but we’ll go against the grain and recommend it for a main dish pairing. A lovely, structured champagne such as the Champagne Veuve Angely Brut goes superbly well with the crispy fried chicken in nasi lemak. The zesty bubbles and refreshing acidity of a nice cold glass of bubbly will not only cut through the delicious saltiness of the fried chicken but also refresh and cleanse your palate with every bite.
Nothing beats personal experience when it comes to wine pairing, as it really does boil down to taste and preference – and the more varieties of wine you’ve tried, the more intuitive your decision making. Don’t be afraid to get creative and you might just discover something groundbreaking!
But if you’d prefer sticking with the experts here at The Straits Wine Company, come drink-in with us! One of our best kept secrets is our drink-in policy (at select outlets) where you can enjoy any of your favourite takeout in-store alongside our wide range of wines. Our friendly in-store experts are here to help you pair wines with all your beloved local dishes, and beyond.