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Beer buff must impress wine-loving gal

Jay McInerney, author, A Hedonist in the Cellar

Q: I am a total loser when it comes to anything but beer, but the girl I'm dating prides herself on her knowledge of wine. She loves sushi (all types) and Thai food. What kind of wine should I order the next time we go out? What should I say about it to impress her?

A: Sushi's easy. Beer and sake are the default settings. But probably the best thing to drink with sushi and the one thing that's going to most impress and delight your girlfriend, is champagne. Certain upscale Japanese joints, like Nobu, know this and stock accordingly. It's a match made in heaven, in part because of the compatibility between the yeast in the soy sauce and the yeast in champagne. A good bubbly is a terrific match for most forms of raw fish and it can also extend nicely to other Japanese dishes like tempura: A good crisp bubbly cuts nicely through the oil. Of course if you really want to impress the hell out of her, you can go for a super premium champers like Dom Perignon or Krug and you won't be disappointed, but the fact is that a lighter bubbly like Perrier Jouet, Pol Roger or Taitinger will fill the bill nicely.

Thai food is not a problem, provided you can pronounce the word Gewürztraminer, which is the name of the grape varietal and the wine made from it. Break it down phonetically or just say Ge-Vurtz, which is what the wine geeks say. Gewürztraminer is an exotic wine that tastes like nothing else -- for some reason it tastes like liquid lychee nuts and smells like rose water -- and it goes brilliantly with spicy and semi-spicy food, particularly with some of the signature ingredients of Thai food like lemon grass and peanut sauce and coconut milk. The best examples come from Alsace in France and Alto Adige in Italy. Buy some at your local wine shop, dial in some red and green curry and prepare to get lucky.

Jay McInerney will be at Miami Book Fair International on Sunday at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College.

Coming Nov. 22: New York City It Girl, Amanda Lepore on living the glamorous life.