Pairing Wine with Chinese Food

    Vinesse often recommends “Asian fare” in the tasting notes that accompany club wines.

     But even when we narrow the focus to Chinese, Japanese or Thai, we realize we’re still painting with a rather wide brush. Each type of cuisine has unique characteristics and variations, and even the type of spice or sauce used in a “spicy” dish can impact the wine choice.

     Here’s one way of looking at it: In Western cooking, the wine often could be thought of as the “sauce” that goes with the dish. But in the Far East, the sauce typically defines the dish, so the wine must be matched to the sauce.

     When it comes to Chinese cooking, sommeliers fall into two camps. Some say it’s virtually impossible to determine a perfect wine match for a specific dish, while others say it’s quite simple. And those on the opposing side cite the very same reason for their very different conclusion: Most Chinese dishes are balanced and complete in themselves. You’ll find a touch of sugar in nearly every savory Chinese dish.

     To some, this perfect balance renders wine unnecessary. Those would be the sommeliers who are scratching their heads.

     But to the other group of sommeliers, the balance of flavors opens up a big, wonderful world of wine possibilities. Their challenge is to “narrow the field” and recommend the really, really, REALLY good wine matches.

     After much experimentation, we’ve come up with a few Chinese food/flavor and wine pairings that work consistently well. Take a copy of this page with you the next time you visit P.F. Chang’s or another wine-friendly Chinese restaurant…

     * Kungpao Chicken — a semi-sweet or off-dry Riesling.

     * Steamed Sea Bass with Stir-Fried Cabbage Hearts and Shiitake Mushrooms — a Gruner Veltliner (known for its light pepper and fruity aroma) from Austria.

     * Pan-fried Pork and Pumpkin Dumplings, or Sweet-and-Sour Pork — a rose of Pinot Noir.

     * Twice-cooked Pork — Pinot Noir (not the rose version).

     * Dishes with Sichuan Peppercorns — sparkling wine. The flavors of virtually any still wine would be overpowered by the peppercorns, but sparkling wines can have a palate-cleansing impact on spicy dishes.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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