The Missing Ingredient

By Erica Martinez

When winter approaches and the weather starts to cool something triggers in our subconscious, making us want to hibernate; sleep late and eat warm, heavy comfort foods, preferably accompanied by dry, bold red wines…all for prepping our bodies and souls for a long, cold winter season. On a cold December night, walking home from work after a long day and buried under layers of knit, I had a different idea. Contemplating dinner, I knew comfort food was out. Too heavy, too much time. Thai might do the trick – spicy and quick.

I was right. It was spicy and quick…but something was missing. The green jasmine rice included cilantro, ginger, lime juice and garlic. The main tofu course included curry, chili flake, tomato and coconut milk – unsweetened. So lack of ingredients wasn’t the problem. It seemed all the senses were being stimulated – sour, salty, spicy, even the elusive umami. But sweet? That was it. There was no sweetness in the dish at all. Perplexed that I might have overlooked an ingredient in the recipe list, I nonchalantly took a sip of my chosen wine, Riesling. And there it was: the missing ingredient in liquid form. Tart, fruity and pleasantly cooling against the bite of the red chili flake, the Riesling was a perfect match with my quick Thai dinner.

I am always amazed when wines I associate with a certain season shine at an unexpected moment. A crisp Riesling has forever reminded me of warm summer days the same way a bold Syrah belongs to winter. Much to my surprise, Riesling exceeded my expectations in 20 degree weather, just like Syrah blew my mind away when I drank it with barbecued ribs in July.

Lounging on the couch next to my electric space heater, eating up my dinner in between sips of Riesling, I might as well have been in Bangkok. Oh, the things that wine can do!

Posted by , December 23, 2009 No comments

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