Every time we go to our favorite neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant Bac Nam, I have a tendency to bring the wrong type of wine as far as proper wine and food pairing is concerned. I think it’s because it’s our second kitchen; our home dining table away from home. The food is great, the atmosphere is comforting and the owners are friendly and gracious. All this makes for a disarming and comforting environment that allows me to not really even think of the place as a restaurant and is probably why I always forget to put any thought into what wine to bring for the night.
We always walk away having had a great time, where the type of wine is only a minor component of the evening. It’s kind of ironic, because it’s a BYOB place that doesn’t even charge a corkage fee, so you would think the first thing I would do is plan accordingly for every visit. This is probably more explanation than you need, but I needed to get this out because it’s something that has always perplexed me. Now that I’ve fed you a bunch of gobbledygook, let’s move on to the wine we had.
This particular night I was intent on thinking about what we would bring to the restaurant. Austrian Gruner Veltliner is a recent, hot and trendy varietal. Like riesling, Gruner or Gruvey for industry short speak, is very food compatible, which is why it’s a more common site on many sommeliers wine lists and wine and food pairing menus. That it is often recommended as a good pairing partner with Asian foods, particularly Vietnamese, is what sparked the idea to try our actual first purchase of a Gruner.
The 2005 Schlossberg Gobelsburger “Steinsetz” Gruner ended up being a terrific accompaniment to our Vietnamese fare. The wine had a white peppery and herbal quality that worked well with the dishes that had mint, cilantro and basil. It of course also had the trademark cool climate acidity that German and Austrian whites possess which helped counter any acid punch back from the Nuoc Cham (Traditional Vietnamese dippnig sauce, usually containing rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, carrots). Because this wine was an ’05 vintage, softer acidity was more apparent, but enough to still cleanse the palate. I think the age also contributed a slight almond and nutty flavor that sometimes appears in white wines that take on some age. It was a nice bonus that added to the complexity of the wine.
The wine is imported by Terry Theisse, who if you’re a big fan of German and Austrian whites and grower Champagnes, he needs no introdcution. If you don’t know who he is and you plan to get serious in collecting the aforementioned types of wines, get on it.
I bought this wine from a friend in the business who was able to buy it through his workplace. I don’t know what he paid for it. All I know is that it was at a discount and that discount was passed on to me, so who knows what the true price was. $20 bucks or less? Any Gruner will do though if you’re looking to try one with Asian food. Most worthy retail shops and restaurants should have at least one on the racks or the menu.