Principles of wine pairing

Buy extra ground beef to stretch over a few meals like this Thai beef wrap.

Yes, beef usually calls for red wine. But some ingredients here suggest a red low in alcohol and tannin; and fresh and fruity, even zesty. Alcohol is a solvent, so a blockbuster red will only spread out and intensify the fiery oil in chili pepper flakes. Ample lime juice and salty fish sauce of many Thai dishes would appreciate a wine with a tangy edge. Low-acid reds will come off flat, even taste tinny.

Thai beef lettuce wraps


Brown 1 pound lean ground beef in a skillet. Toward end of browning, add 1 small onion, finely chopped; cook, 5 minutes. Add 1 clove garlic, minced; cook, 2 minutes. Remove mixture from skillet; drain off fat. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.

Add 6 green onions, sliced on a diagonal; 1/2 cup chopped basil; 1/2 cup chopped mint; 1 can (8 ounces) drained water chestnuts, chopped; 3 tablespoons fish sauce; 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes; and juice of 1 lime. Stir to blend.


Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. To eat, spoon mixture onto Boston lettuce leaves, wrapping burrito-style. Makes: 6 servings

NV Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé, Spain:

Replace Thai food's typical drinking buddy — beer — with this bubbly dry pinkie, tasting of strawberry and cherry with a cleansing, spry finish. $15

2009 Potel-Aviron Cote de Brouilly Beaujolais, France:

Put a slight chill on this fruity, buoyant red, full of fresh red fruit aromas and flavors and zippy to the end. $18

2009 MacPhail Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast:

Super-delicious for all its juicy, bright, cherry and red raspberry tastes and scents; crisp, low tannin, lengthy finish, with haunting aftertastes that last a long time. $40

— Bill St. John, Special to Tribune Newspapers