Chinese New Year Wine Pairings

What to drink with a new-year feast


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Chinese New Year Wine Pairings The Chinese are discovering wine. And just in time.

We’ve always had a love affair with Chinese food here in NYC; after all, who else delivers at 3 in the morning with a foot of fresh, wet snow on the ground! But of course, there is NYC Chinese restaurant food and then there is Chinese food.

With Chinese New Year upon us on February 3 (ushering in the Year of the Rabbit), and the growth of China as an important cultural reference in many communities, it’s a perfect time to think a bit about Chinese food and how pairing wines with these dishes can play an increasingly important role in our culinary landscape.

The Chinese seem to have a particular affinity for Bordeaux, and while that would not be my first choice to pair with many Chinese dishes, the pantheon of Chinese cuisine is broad and wide, and there is a great match for almost every wine. The trick is in teasing out the elements that work well together!

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  • Snooth User: tjgriffin
    601667 21

    Hi Gregory. Nice article as Chinese food is always a challenging cuisine to pair with wine. Couple of notes: Gewurztraminer is not allowed in the blend for a Cremant d'Alsace and Torrontes is misspelled. Keep up the good work!

    Jan 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

  • Snooth User: PC2
    752573 1

    I'm from Grove Estate Wines in Young Australia. Tim Kirk makes our Shiraz Viognier. Any ideas on who I can speak to regarding importing to USA?

    Regards Brian Mullany

    Jan 31, 2011 at 7:04 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,986

    Some good combos here, Greg, but a few stretches. Afraid you lost me on the Lambrusco with lettuce wraps. What's wrong with a beer?

    And glad you recognized that NYC (or San Fran or....) Chinese is a different animal from Chinese across the Pacific. Would be fun to bring a large winelist to Canton and do some matchings there.

    Feb 01, 2011 at 2:11 AM

  • Prosecco was a surprising hit with Thai Food. In general Alsace wine goes well with Chinese in my experience, the added grapy flavours lift the combination. Gewurztraminer or prosecco for spicy food, or even off dry eg mosel. Bordeaux might just make it but seems a gamble to use a classed growth, unless host is showing off flamboyant wealth (?) - which is behaviour increasingly likely to denude us of .....classed growth bordeaux

    Feb 01, 2011 at 4:58 AM

  • Brian Mullany Thankyou for the Hilltops Semillon of 2008 and 2007 and 2006 wonderful golden liquid fondly remembered here in London. Am nursing last bottle of the 2006 Shiraz Viognier Grove Estate in my cellar as well. Divert any future shipments to London please

    Feb 01, 2011 at 5:01 AM

  • Snooth User: shermank
    614080 9

    Interesting article. During Chinese New Year banquet (or other Chinese festive), all the dishes are presented almost at the same time (I'm excluding the usual spicy dishes here) Usually, Australian Shiraz, NZ Saug Blanc or even South Africa Pinotage fair well with the combination; while Asti sparkling wine (Italian Brachetto or Australian sparkling Shiraz) will do well with the dessert (Chinee pastries). Oak flavored wine is not a good pairing choice.
    I'm putting together a handbook about wine pairing for the 8 main Chinese cruisines; thus, this is a helpful research material for me.

    Feb 01, 2011 at 12:11 PM

  • Aussie shiraz and chinese food SURELY YOU MEANT roast lamb! But I am keen to hear of suggested chinese dishes that would be lifted by shiraz.....

    The sauces are surely a minefield... Beef yes, but in black bean sauce? What goes well with Kung Po or sweet and sour? Noodles and lobster yes with chardonnay, but thats the lobster. What if noodles are spicy?

    Tea , hot green and cutting through the fats with tannins and heat, surely best with chinese food?

    Puzzled no one fancies Alsace eg pinot blancs, gewurz, with this cuisine

    Feb 02, 2011 at 5:42 AM

  • Snooth User: manan1
    1188025 24

    William Simpson and Sherman K are spot on.

    I am a Chinese ex restaurateur and lived in France for over 15 years. Grape wines are not a common part of Chinese cuisine. Tea and a lager type beer is universally drunk in China by most people at meals so why not do as the Chinese do? You can't go wrong.
    For banquets, hard grain liquor grain liquor (40 degrees proof or more) and yellow rice wine is served. Chinese food does not go with great bordeaux wines but does with great rice wines.

    If I prepare a banquet or buffet with more than 10 dishes for my western friends and need wine, I recommend to keep things very simple. Four wines I have found go well are an Alsace pinot blanc ( 1-3 yrs) and an Alsace pinot noir (1-3yrs) which have enough acidity and dryness to cut through the fat and spices of many dishes and clean the palate. For guests who prefer a bit more body an alsation gewurztraminer ( (1-5yrs regular is ok, no need for a v.t. or s.g.n. )plus an aged (4-7 yrs) red gigondas work well. Last week we had a 3 hour complex New Year banquet for 18 people; A vintage champagne opener (before serious eating started) was followed by a Gewurtz. and a Gigondas.
    For non drinkers and drivers, tea and sparkling mineral water were fine non alcoholic alternatives and in China you will commonly find watermelon or cucumber juice commonly available in restaurants. Everyone was happy with the choice.

    Feb 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM

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