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Malaysian foodies develop taste for Italian wine

Paired with local dishes, signature labels make inroads into an improbable market

George Town's upscale Eastern & Oriental Hotel has started pairing spicy local Baba Nyonya food with sparkling Franciacorta rose. (Photo by Kit Yeng Chan)

GEORGE TOWN, Malaysia -- Pairing Italian sparkling wine with spicy Malaysian food may sound like heresy to most foodies, but boutique soirees focused on Italian wines matched with local food are drawing loyal fans in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

From Nebbiolo to Cannonau, Franciacorta and Prosecco, signature wines from Italy have found appreciation in the restaurants and wine bars of the Southeast Asian nation, even though most of the population does not drink alcohol.

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