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By The Glass
Chuck Furuya

Asian cuisine
and warm climate
require special wines

Asian foods offer considerable challenges when it comes to pairing wines. The main reason is the predominance of sweet, spicy and salty edges in the dishes -- often in rather large doses. This flavor profile produces intriguing cuisine, but is not always wine-friendly.

Thankfully, I'm in a position to do something about the dilemma.

These two wines, released under my CF label, were developed with the help of two very progressive, highly skilled winemakers, specifically for Hawaii's warm climate and myriad Asian-styled foods.

2003 CF Wines Euro-Asian Riesling Medium-Dry: The grapes come from the revered, red sandstone soil of Niersteiner Hipping vineyard in Germany's Rheinhessen region. The winemaker is the masterful Fritz Hasselbach.

This medium-dry riesling is wonderfully pure, effortlessly light in body and full of finesse. It can therefore handle (and not clash with) a wide range of spicy and/or salty Asian foods.

Feel at ease in taking this wine to a Thai, Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese restaurant. It sells for less than $11.

2003 CF Wines Syrah: Don't expect a dark, dense Australian look-alike here. We were looking for a red wine well-suited to Asian-influenced meat dishes when developing this wine.

The winemaker for this task was a pinot noir specialist, Gary Burk of Costa de Oro. The 2003 has a lot of bright, exuberant, plush, juicy and spicy fruit with superb texture and a very low-key finish. In fact, 15 percent pinot noir was blended in to make the wine more elegant and to help ensure its Asian-food friendliness.

Just please make sure you serve the wine slightly chilled.

It sells for about $17 a bottle.

Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.

This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to features@starbulletin.com

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