Most often when I go to a small ethnic restaurant (I favor Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, North African and Mexican), I enjoy a bit of spice and sometimes brutal heat. It is always puzzling to find a good drink (with alcohol please) to go along with a good curry, a spicy couscous and other Pad Thais. Often the choice is between the house wine (no thank you, I do not want your white zin…), the beer (not another Kirin or Tsingtao please) or an uninspiring cocktail (likely with Tequila or Vodka that do not taste much of anything). I often retreat to water or, I must admit, a beer (light lagers or pilsners are a favorite if available).
I have found out that most of the smaller ethnic restaurants are likely run by foreign born staff with little wine knowledge. They usually see the wine list as important as the fortune cookies (I would not be surprised if they pay more attention to the cookies at times). The wine is usually provided by the beer salesman of very large wine and beer distributors (they are the only one that really have the time and incentive to visit those smaller accounts). The beer salesman is usually incentivized on beer and his wine book is often dismal. The combination of an uneducated buyer and a sales person that want to push beer is unfortunately an uninspiring wine selection in 99% of small ethnic food restaurant.
If anyone as a solution on how to change this sad state of affair, please leave a post!
PS: Did I say that Riesling (in many forms), can aikido most, if not all, of those ethnic foods…