You'll often hear it suggested to "match the spiciness of Asian cooking with the spiciness of gewurztraminer," a grape that gets its name from the German "gewurz," or "spicy." But its original name, traminer aromatico, is Italian loosely translated into the German.
The "spice" is a smell, not a taste. This recipe surely boasts a panoply of aromas that gewurztraminer — or any grape — merely approximates. No worries; if you want to match the "spiciness," any aromatic white wine will do nicely. It will be more important to pair the oil, salt and chili heat with the snap-crackle-pop of the wine's bracing acidity.
The food: Speedy shrimp with Thai curry vegetables
Cut 2 carrots, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash and 1 red bell pepper into 2-inch matchsticks. Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons each sesame oil and red curry paste; cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add matchsticks, 5 chopped green onions and 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets. Stir-fry until vegetables soften slightly. Transfer vegetables to a plate. Add 1 pound medium shelled shrimp to wok; stir-fry until pink. Return vegetables to wok; remove from heat. Serve, garnished with Sriracha, lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, bean sprouts. Makes: 4 servings
2012 Groth Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: Captures the green side of sauvignon (lime pith, celery, honeydew, tart acidity) and rounds it off with the creaminess of wood and lees aging. $20
2011 Leitz Riesling Eins-Zwei-Dry, Rheingau, Germany: Super-delicious example of dry riesling that is actually juicy; flavors are long, and aromas bring white fruits and minerals; much lean acidity. $17-$20
2010 Firestone Estate Gewurztraminer, Santa Ynez Valley, California: Terrific price for full-on aromas and flavors of lychee, rose water and orange, typical of the variety; dry style, fantastic cleansing acidity. $14
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers