Especially with Chinese food, finding the perfect wine to complement your dish can be a bit tricky. However, the right combination will bring out and elevate the best characteristics of an already beautiful wine and delicious meal. With these simple tips and a bit of experimentation, you can turn an everyday meal into one you will never forget.
1. By Far the most important rule is that you trust yourself, if you only drink white or only drink red- that’s totally fine. All rules in wine are there to be broken.
2. Match the weight of the wine to the weight of the dish- delicate foods will be overwhelmed by big wines be they white or red. Big bold flavours in food match with big bold wines.
3. Fatty foods work well with Tannins and high acidity.
4. I don’t care what anyone says but there are some spicy dishes that destroy any wine- Sichuan pepper kills wine full stop- do not attempt to pair wine with very hot food, please just drink beer :)
5. Mildly spicy dishes do work well with off dry aromatic whites- Mosel or Alsace Rieslings are the critics’ choice- However so do juicy reds with soft tannins- try New Zealand Pinot Noir for example.
6. The Vast Majority of red wines do not pair well with the vast majority of Cheeses - in fact many kill them completely. Look out for an upcoming top 10 of wine and cheese matches but in the meantime- blue cheese kills pretty much all red wine- Hard cheeses work well with strong flavoured reds, Goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc is a match made in heaven.
7. The finest wines should be allowed to shine alongside relatively simple dishes and flavours. Do not risk and complicated sauce with your best bottles!! Roasted Duck or Goose with your best Pinot’s (be they from Burgundy or elsewhere) is a match made in heaven. Slow roasted lamb with finest Bordeaux is a great tradition because it works!!!
8. The best wines for a Chinese Banquet should be “All Rounders” by this I mean wines that are medium bodied but not too delicate, Juicy and youthful. Where you have 10 dishes on the table you will never find the perfect pairing but its fun to have 2 contrasting wines in from of you to see which works best with each dish. How about a Mosel Riesling for the more delicate dishes and a juicy fruity young red for the more robust ones.
9. If you are talking to a Sommelier or a store assistant Make sure you are clear about your own wine preferences before you ask for food and wine pairing advice- I worked in restaurants for 15 years and 99% of customers will have a personal taste in wine which is 10 times more important than some piece of technical piece of information an “expert” may have- see Point one.
10. Experiment Experiment Experiment!!!! The availability of a great range of high quality wines in China is only something we have really seen in the past 10 years or so, we are only just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of wine with food in China, there are millions of wines and millions of dishes AND countless combinations that we will sure uncover over the years to come. Enjoy...