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What makes a truly wonderful wine pairing with Chinese cooking?

www.dailymail.co.uk by 21/01/2013  



 

It's not just taking over the planet economically – China is also striding ahead in terms of wine.

With vineyards shooting up almost daily, it won’t be long before we in the UK are merrily sipping Chinese vino with our Chinese food.

Supplies are still limited here, though, so for now it’s the food that remains more familiar to us.

But what makes a truly wonderful wine pairing with Chinese cooking?

Complexity is the real conundrum here, as there are so many Chinese dishes and styles, with all kinds of vibrant flavours – spicy, sweet, sour or a combination.

In general, I’d avoid very chunky reds with lots of tannin, which risk overwhelming the glossy textures of Chinese cooking.

Tannin also clashes with salty flavours, a key component of many dishes, and indeed soy sauce.

Lighter reds with a modern fruity character from places such as Chile and New Zealand tend to work better.

Similarly with whites, you might well be tempted to grab a Gewürztraminer, with its fragrant buzz, to complement exotic ingredients.

 

But Gewürztraminer is very intense – imagine the scent of a rose amplified to perfume-counter levels and laced with wafts of lychee and Turkish delight.

It’s a wine to be deployed sparingly in my view – though it works brilliantly with powerful flavours such as fresh ginger.

So with these guidelines in place, let’s pair some of the more popular Chinese dishes with some sublime wines.


Selecting a match for dim sum depends largely on the headline flavour, but a great all-rounder is Pinot Gris.

It has a round, mellow, fruity character without sharp edges that works a treat with mild spices and glossy textures.

Alsace has an abundance of the stuff, which tends towards the richer side, but my current top bet is Waimea Pinot Gris 2010/11 from New Zealand (£8.99 if you buy two at Majestic).

Riesling can work too, especially fruitier examples, which match well with sticky or sweet-and-sour dishes.

I’m a fan of German Riesling in particular; look for Spätlese and Auslese on the label to get the richer, fruitier styles.

Or seek out examples from further afield – such as Washington State in the U.S.

If it’s fish you’re having, or even lighter, mushroom-influenced dishes, Austrian Grüner Veltliner is a fab choice. Refreshing with a mild aromatic twist, it also pairs beautifully with scallops and seafood chow mein dishes.

If you’d prefer bubbly, Tesco Demi-Sec Cava at £4.99 copes well with mild spice thanks to its off-dry fruity character.

Or you could grab a deeply coloured and full-flavoured juicy rosé such as Mayu Carménère Syrah Rosé 2011 (Chile) – £4.98 in Asda until Wednesday.


Selecting a match for dim sum depends largely on the headline flavour, but a great all-rounder is Pinot Gris.

It has a round, mellow, fruity character without sharp edges that works a treat with mild spices and glossy textures.

Alsace has an abundance of the stuff, which tends towards the richer side, but my current top bet is Waimea Pinot Gris 2010/11 from New Zealand (£8.99 if you buy two at Majestic).

Riesling can work too, especially fruitier examples, which match well with sticky or sweet-and-sour dishes.

I’m a fan of German Riesling in particular; look for Spätlese and Auslese on the label to get the richer, fruitier styles.

Or seek out examples from further afield – such as Washington State in the U.S.

If it’s fish you’re having, or even lighter, mushroom-influenced dishes, Austrian Grüner Veltliner is a fab choice. Refreshing with a mild aromatic twist, it also pairs beautifully with scallops and seafood chow mein dishes.

If you’d prefer bubbly, Tesco Demi-Sec Cava at £4.99 copes well with mild spice thanks to its off-dry fruity character.

Or you could grab a deeply coloured and full-flavoured juicy rosé such as Mayu Carménère Syrah Rosé 2011 (Chile) – £4.98 in Asda until Wednesday.