In a recent meeting with my financial advisor, the inevitable subject of wine came forth. We discussed a few favourites, the value of bag-in-box and moved on to the subject of pairing beverages with Vietnamese cuisine. His choice: beer. However, the local beer that’s available rarely elevates the food the way that wine can.

Regional Pairing
Regional pairing is pairing food from a particular region with wine from the same region.  This natural pairing has grown over time, and it’s why you’ll often see Italian or French restaurants with exclusively Italian and French wine lists. Anyone who has traveled to a wine region will notice a natural affinity between the local wines and the local food. It’s a natural fit.

While this may help you pair a Chianti with a nice red pasta, it’s not much help when we start talking about Vietnamese food. So if you’re inclined to enjoy your next bowl of bun thit nuong, or plate of spring rolls with some wine, I’ve outlined a few simple guidelines to assist with the journey.

Complementary Flavours
The food need not overpower the wine or vice versa. This is why it wouldn’t be complementary to a plate of fresh crispy crunchy pork and shrimp spring rolls with a bold and juicy Argentine Malbec. Find something that is equally intense in similar ways. The ubiquitous fresh spring roll is an easy pair with a variety of whites, so try a tart, grassy sauvignon blanc or a bit heavier-handed Semillon or a dry Riesling. If you’re having your spring rolls with peanut sauce, try a richer, buttery Chardonnay (California produces lots of these).

A Bite of Spice is Nice
Pairing with spicy foods (don’t forget to consider the chillis floating in your fish sauce), look for something on the sweeter side. Spicy and sweet is a classic flavour combination that holds true here too. Try a German Rhine Riesling or any of the awesome off dry wines from France’s Alsace region like Gewurztraminer, Riesling or Silvaner. You won’t go wrong. Try all of these wines with a nice fishy, peppery claypot fish.

Pick the Pink Flavour
I’ve made no secret of my love for Rosé, and when pairing with local food, I’ll not waver from what I’ve already declared a wonderful match. These subtle, fragrant flavours that we commonly find in Vietnamese food are highlighted and complemented by the soft tannins and lighter texture of Rosé, making an easy pair for a simply respectable banh mi thit or a turmeric rich, crispy banh xeo. And if your favourite banh xeo joint doesn’t have wine? Bring along a bottle to share!

Michael Kloster is the senior sales executive at Magnum Wine Cellars. He can be contacted at