Issara Wines and the Pan Asian Palate

By Loren Chaffee

At the Asian American Restaurant and Food Fair, Paleewong Trading provided a number of beverages to accompany the Pan-Asian dishes. One vineyard, Issara of Sonoma County, California, offered wines to compliment the exotic spices and ingredients found in Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dishes, which was a great fit for the food fair. One could carry a glass throughout the event to pair it with their favorite chefs’ specialties. “Issara” is a word meaning freedom in Thai, and per the website, was chosen to represent the label’s willingness to explore outside formulaic standards while still priding itself on quality and value. From Sonoma’s rugged geography, varied soils, and temperate climate, Issara offers a cabernet sauvignon, a chardonnay, a merlot, a cuvee white, and a cuvee red. Each with its own distinguishing notes, traditional food and wine pairings do not necessarily apply.

With bright cassis aromas, strong herbal and cocoa flavors, the cabernet sauvignon goes well with savory meats like a satay, tandoori, or even a simple grilled pork. Try Klong for a great satay or any of the great Indian restaurants along Curry Row for tandoori on 7th St both in the East Village.

As with all of the best California chardonnays, Issara’s boasts scents of tangy citrus with crisp flavors of green apple, Asian pear, and hints of buttery caramel. The creaminess of the chardonnay pairs well with crab, crispy duck (try it on a salad), fish cakes with peanut sauce, and most sushi rolls. Try the crispy duck sliders from Corner 28 Cafe in Flushing with this chardonnay or maybe the in- house smoked salmon at Sato in Rego Park.

The Issara merlot hints of toasted oak and plump, juicy black cherries. Being one of the lighter reds, it has a versatile pairing with everything from duck to laab to salmon teriyaki or even a masaman curry dishes. Try Pongsri anywhere in the city for a nice laab (chopped meat salad with chili and lime) or New Belachan in Brooklyn for a masaman curry.

The cuvee red and white are the blended from a variety of grapes for a smooth texture and ultimate flavor. With hints of vanilla custard, green apple, and tropical fruit, pair the white cuvee with green curries, white meat, and fish dishes. The cuvee red with its medium body can be paired with a wide range of meat dishes like bulgogi or kalbi and red curries. For more information, check out http:// for more information and where to purchase.


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About the Author: Rick Lin


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