Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Beverages to go with My Vietnamese Dinner

Tea and coffee are Vietnam?s most popular beverages. A special coffee is grown locally in the Vietnamese highlands in the South/Central part of Vietnam. The beans are roasted French style, and a dark coffee is made by dripping, and usually served with condensed milk. There is no specific brand, but is rather known as "café sua" or "coffee with milk" - served hot or over ice cubes.

Another popular beverage is bubble or pearl tea, a new fad from Taiwan. Tea is mixed with various fruit juices and large pearls of tapioca are suspended in the beverage.

Vietnam has no domestic spirits per se, such as brandy or whiskey, therefore most alcoholic spirits are imported. However, Vietnam has three domestic beers, Hue, 33, and Saigon Export.

But this is going to be an elegant affair, so I don?t want to serve beer with dinner, and I don?t want to serve coffee or tea until after the main course. Since I live here in the Napa Valley, wine seems the obvious choice. I'm thinking of serving a Chenin Blanc, a dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer, maybe a dry white Zin (although I don't care much for Zinfandel of any kind). Some wine experts on the web recommend a Sauvignon Blanc, but I don?t think the dry, flinty characteristics of the Sauvignon Blanc would compliment the spicy, fruity flavors of the Vietnamese dishes I have chosen for my menu. Perhaps a trip upvalley for a little wine tasting is in order. :>)