How to Pair Wine With Savory and Sweet Coconut Dishes

This tropical fruit has a seldom explored savory side that's perfect for enriching dishes like soups, curries and shellfish as well as pairing with a variety of wines.
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Besides making a mean cream pie, coconut can provide food, water, wood, fabric and shelter. Yet, most of us have barely explored its potential beyond desserts.

Creamy coconut milk, extracted from its oil-rich meat, is used extensively in Southeast Asian, Caribbean and some South American cuisines. It’s a great tool to enrich vegetable soups, steam shellfish or braise greens. Widely available, unsweetened shredded coconut can be an interesting addition to salads, granola, streusel toppings and chutneys. It can also liven up coatings for baked chicken or shrimp, and makes a fine garnish for yogurt or oatmeal.

Fun Facts

Per capita, Sri Lankan residents consume more coconut per year than people in any other country, about 115 pounds per person.
Scaling coconut palm trees can be dangerous, so monkeys are often trained to climb and knock down coconuts.
Coconuts aren’t nuts. They’re drupes, or stone fruits. The part that we eat is the endosperm of the seed.
Coconut palm trees can grow to almost 100 feet in height.

Pair It

Coconut-based entrées tend to be spicy and creamy. A wine pairing should focus on which of those elements dominate.

“With spicy coconut curries, I like to pair a lightly sweet Riesling,” says Jon Cross, sommelier/wine director at Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles. “The sweetness cuts through the spiciness of the dish, but it also has good acidity.”

Explore the Savory Side of Coconuts in These Soups and Stews

For less spicy dishes like coconut-milk mussels, Cross goes for rich Chardonnays that offer similar creamy texture.

As for desserts, most sweet wines with good acidity, like Sauternes and Tokaji, pair well. But Cross suggests Donnafugata’s Ben Ryè Passito di Pantelleria, which is 100% Zibibbo.

Published on January 25, 2018
Topics: Savory or Sweet
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net




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