Pairing wine with Thai beef can be trickier than we originally thought.
A shiraz seemed right and proper but the best sips with the food last night came when the acid and tannins became even more muted in the wine and a fruit burst pushed its way to the front of the queue (I'm practicing my British).
While the food was solid and the wine was tasty, something was lacking. And that something might have been some sort of big sparkling dark berry notes in the wine to lift the Thai flavors a bit.
We might have been better served with a bigger, rounder, fruity-bomby type of a wine (I...can't...believe...I'm saying that) or the Rumball Sparkling Shiraz.
Food: Thai-grilled hanger steak with red curry rice, tostones and mâche/basil/mint with ponzu and sesame oil
From a Food & Wine recipe taken from Trinchero Winery Kitchen in California, substituting hanger for skirt steak. Beef marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cilantro, peanuts, scallions, lime juice and chili oil and cooked on the more rare side. Tasty hanger with a good char that Mrs. Ney thought might have been too much but it didn't detract and even added something for me.
Tostones were the star, though and probably what we wanted most. Everything else was a vehicle for the tostones. Dipped in mayo flavored with the essence, that certain something, that je ne sais quoi of the Thai beef marinade and boiled down. Best part of the meal and we were okay with that.
White rice cooked in red curry paste that was full of flavor but might have been a wee bit superfluous with the tostones on the plate.
A huge pile of mâche, basil and mint drizzled with ponzu and topped with toasted sesame seeds. As always, good capper to the meal with mint and greens being inarguably delicious. Don't argue because you will lose.
Scallions and toasted sesame seeds sprinkled over everything.
And topped off with buttermilk bacon-maple gelato and waffle galettes again, this time with fancy maple syrup drizzle.
Happy eats. Nothing wrong with it.
Wine: 2005 Schild Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley ($25 - Sam's ?)
Schild shiraz got a ton of press right when we were getting somewhat heavily into spending on Australian shiraz. #16 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list of 2007. It was a highly recommended bargain wine among a slew of overpriced shiraz on the market at the time.
Dark red in the glass. Some grilled meat, spices and plum on the nose. It started and continued with dark cherry and plum on the palate with very smooth tannins and a background acidity that made it fall into the 'smooth shiraz' category along with bit of chocolate that rounded everything out. Sufficient depth and a nice cascading burn to the finish. A nice, smooth, roundish, medium-bodied shiraz that really didn't bring many surprises. Never gets out of the realm of "a good representation" of Australian shiraz.
And that is why, while pleasant enough, it didn't hold up to the food.
Pairing: 83 Needed more
Paired best with the tostones and mayo, oddly. Something about the egg yolks in the mayo completely knocked out the tannins and acid, intensifying the fruit to large degree. Not at all what you want from a pairing but that's the best moment of the night for the Schild. We were scratching for a surprise and that had to suffice. In the end, I was fine with that.
The Schild had a great little finish by itself. Went on for 30 seconds at least with a nice residual burn that was pretty seamless all the way down. But with the beef, the mid-palate hollowed out completely. From a flavor standpoint, nothing became disjointed but it simply disappeared halfway down and came back for a last quick hit. We know from experience that other Australian shiraz with Thai beef-type dishes doesn't do that. This basic pairing worked great before in our world, making me think that a shiraz that brings more complexity and abundance of fruit - including some berry, especially blackberry - would have been a better fit.
It wasn't the ginger. It wasn't the soy. It wasn't the scallions.
It was the wine. It straddled the line of being too simple with not enough complexity to change into a different beast when more distinctive food flavors came into play. Bet it would be great with simply seared beef and no expectations.
We had some.