Wine Pairing with Chinese Food
How to Match Wines to Asian Food
Wine isn't a major feature of the local cuisine and drinking scene in Asian countries. However, in many countries where both wine and Asian food are popular, it's helpful to make some educated guesses at which wines make good matches for different Asian cuisine styles. Here are some suggestions, with the proviso that your own palate remains the best judge.
Match wines to spicy Asian dishes.While you'll need to taste the spice differences and match the wines accordingly, as a general rule, look for fruitier, fresh, crisp and moderately aromatic wines to match spicy Asian dishes.The Rieslings and Traminers are a good choice.
- Avoid oaky and buttery whites, or neutral and dry whites for the most part.
- Restaurant styles for Asian food include: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Italian varietals (such as Barbera and Sangiovese).
Match citrus based wines to Asian dishes with lemon and orange bases.Dishes redolent of lemongrass, orange, or other citrus flavours will often match well with a citrus-based Semillon, especially young ones. Try Chardonnay/Semillon and Sauvignon/Semillon blends as well. Riesling is a good choice for lemon-based sauces.
Match Riesling to the flavors of coriander and chillies.The clean, pure, and fresh taste is a good match for these flavors.
- For Thai food, try dry but fruity wines to match the salty and sweet flavors.Sauvignons, Riesling and Semillons can work well, as can lightly chilled New World reds and Beaujolais-Villages.
Try light wines with Chinese food.Most Chinese food tends to be delicate and slightly sweet, so the wine needs to be considerate of this. Suitable wines include Riesling, Champagne (demi-secorbrut) and New World Pinot Noirs.
Match Riesling, dry Champagne, and New Zealand sparkling wines to Japanese dishes.Japanese dishes can be difficult to match to a wine because of the wasabi, pickles, and dipping sauce flavors. Other flavors that might work include Chablis, firm, dry whites and if you must try a red, go for a Beaujolais.
Match stir-fries with stronger wines.Most stir-fries carry heavier sauces and flavours and can handle a fuller bodied wine. Try well rounded Chardonnays.
Match strong flavors with stronger wines.Curries and thick sauce dishes might go well with such wines as Merlot and Shiraz.
- Modern New World white wines are better able to cope with the bitter, sour, and astringent complexities found in curries and other Indian hot food than classic European wines.
- Pinot Gris is a good choice for richly flavored and textured Asian food, such as Vietnamese pork, or prawn rolls with a peanut sauce.
- Avoid heavy tannins and oak with hot Asian food and experiment with chilling the wine lightly before use.
Experiment a lot and have a sense of adventure.The ideas outlined in this article are suggestions and some may not work to your liking, while others may be spot on. It's a good idea to keep a notebook of the successes (and failures!) and rely on that to build up your knowledge of what matches work best.
- The method of preparing the food will impact the wine used. Raw, steamed, poached, stir-fried, pan-fried, grilled, roasted, baked, barbecued, deep-fried, and stewed or braised food will each have different requirements from a wine.
Video: How to Pair Wine with Spicy Asian Food
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