Food trucks have helped democratize taste, bringing a world of cuisines to us in a casual, flexible format. There is only one thing most of them lack — a proper wine list and a sommelier. We rounded up a few wine experts to weigh in on the best wines to pair with everything from Thai to vegan dishes. Leonora Varvoutis, general manager of Coltivare in Houston, advises no matter what wine you choose, remember to keep focus in line with the food truck’s “adventurous, carefree, usually messy, and intimate” ambiance.
Barbecue is a staple of the food-truck scene and while most might think of a red wine pairing, Varvoutis reaches for bubbly. “Most people will tell you to drink Syrah with BBQ and while that is such a classic pairing, I will always choose rosé bubbles in this situation. I love a good rose Crémant de Loire with BBQ. These wines have enough acidity and body to stand up to even a big ‘ole hunk of beef rib.”
If you are really hankering for a red, sommelier Quentin Vauléon of Frevo restaurant in New York City suggests a full-bodied red like Tempranillo from Spain (Ribera del Duero, Rioja or Toro DOC), Bordeaux-style blends from California, or rich red Mourvedre from Bandol in Provence.
Mexican cuisine lends itself to a range of pairing options, from acid-driven whites to full-bodied reds. Daniel Fish, director of wine for Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, California, looks to Grüner Veltliner for its versatility. “I love its ability to complement the difficult-to-pair flavors of green ingredients such as avocado and artichoke,” he says.
Varvoutis likes to pair with the bright, green apple notes and juicy, green “Jolly Rancher” flavors often found in Sauvignon Blanc. “If you’ve never just sat down and had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with chips and guacamole then you have definitely been missing out in life,” she says. On the red spectrum, Vauléon looks to full-bodied and spiced styles such as a Syrah from Australia.
The curries and spices in Thai dishes pair well with the low alcohol and fruity characteristics of Riesling. “The vibrant tropical fruit tones and residual sugar of Riesling soothe the spice often found in Thai cuisine,” says Fish. “Although Riesling is masterfully crafted in Germany, it is also beautifully made in Austria, Australia,
the US and Alsace.”
Our sommeliers agreed that pairings with Japanese cuisine can be especially challenging because of the range of salt, acid, fat and texture found in Japanese dishes. Look for wines that are fresh, light and zesty with less aromatics and oak, so as not to overpower the food. To best stitch all of the components of Japanese cuisine together, Vauléon looks to young Chablis from Burgundy.
“The wine’s classic briny and zesty flavors create the link with all the different perfumes you meet in the exotic cuisine of Japan, from jasmine to soy or even ginger and wasabi. For red-wine lovers, focus on Pinot Noir.”
Vegan and vegetarian cuisine is on a roll in food truck menus, but because the dishes vary widely in textures and ingredients, they can present a pairing puzzle. Vauléon advises pairing leafy greens and green vegetables, with white wines featuring a grassy, lemony and mineral profile such as Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley or from Marlborough in New Zealand. “For dishes that are more legume focused, look for a bubbly.”