In Europe, food and wine are eaten together to enhance each other’s flavors. But in Asia, spirits are often made with grain-based ingredients and are not usually paired with complete meals but rather, appetizers and even street foods.
Although wine and Chinese dishes are worlds apart in geography and history, they make a surprisingly tasty combination! Generally, choices for wine pairing are limited to German/Alsatian varietals such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. The fruity, sweet flavors of these wine varieties go well with salty, spicy and rich dishes. Whether you are ordering take-outs tonight or you’re whipping up a Chinese feast at home, these spirits make the best drinks for your favorite Chinese dishes:
American gewürztraminer For Yeung Chow Fried Rice
A classic Chao fan features juicy slivers of shrimp and pork, chopped scallions and carrots cooked together with cold rice and eggs in a hot wok. The result is savory rice you can eat on its own or topped with your favorite dim sums!
This Chinese staple will go well with American gewürztraminer! The richness of the rice is cut down by the natural sweetness and fruity flavors of gewürztraminer. This aromatic spirit will also enhance the subtle flavors of scrambled eggs! Most American gewürztraminer are affordable but if you want to splurge, we recommend the Hermann J. Wiemer Gewürztraminer 2007, which costs $19 a pop.
Sweet and Semi-Dry Riesling for Szechuan Chicken
Szechuan cuisine originated in the province of Sichuan in southwest China. The region is known for extremely spicy dishes. Perhaps the most popular of all Szechuan dishes is the Szechuan chicken. This dish boasts of robust flavors and aromatic spices with earthy undertones. Szechuan chicken will go well with a bottle of Riesling. Riesling is characterized for its perfect blend of acidity and sweetness. It has a crisp, refreshing taste and sweet aroma. Sweet and Semi-Dry Riesling will go well with the spiciness of Szechuan chicken.
Sauvignon Blanc for Lo Mein
Lo mein is a noodle dish made from boiled wheat flour noodles, fresh vegetables and slivers of beef, pork, chicken or wontons. In the west, lo mein is the quintessential take-out food. A special sauce is usually stirred into the cooked noodles before eating. The special sauce is made from a blend of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and other seasonings.
Because lo mein is typically oily, it will pair well with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc and other sparkling line will offset the oiliness of lo mein while enhancing the richness of the soy sauce. The spirit will also boost the flavors of the fresh vegetables, providing a tangy finish to a meal.
Beaujolais for Moo Shu Pork
Moo Shu Pork is a popular Chinese dish that originated in Shandong province in northern China. This dish is a staple in most Chinese restaurants in the west. Moo Shu Pork is made of sliced pork tenderloin, scrambled eggs, black fungus and enokitake mushrooms as well as and cabbage then flavored with peanut or sesame oil and hoisin sauce.
Because this dish has strong flavors and aroma, it will go well with low-tannin Beaujolais. The fruity notes of Beaujolais will complement the hoisin sauce and bring out the flavors of the mushrooms and cabbage. Try not to pair this dish with red wine because the wine and the dish both feature very strong flavors.