August 30, 2021 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Chinese Food
“What grows together, goes together.” That is to say, plants and animals that exist in a similar bioregion can often combine to make delicious and uncannily cohesive dishes. This catchy statement has mostly been used to describe cultural fare, and introduce new chefs to the idea of super-localized cooking.
This idea has also been expanded to illustrate the effectiveness of combining ingredients from different bioregions across a similar latitudinal plane. That is – food grown along the same horizontal line at any point around the globe goes together remarkably well.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that wine and Chinese food pair as incredibly as they do. The majority of the country exists along the same lines as some of the most famous wine-making regions in the world: think Italy, Spain, France and California. And each region in China has vastly different cuisines which add particular intrigue to the question of matching wine to food.
Like wine, Chinese cuisine is expansive, complex, and offers something for every palate imaginable. Here is a brief guide that will help you choose the best bottle to go with your next Zhongguo meal.
How to Pair Wine With Chinese Food
A traditional Chinese meal might involve a much greater number of dishes than Westerners are used to. Ideally each food item would be accompanied by a perfect wine pairing in order to create a truly comprehensive tasting experience. And Chinese dishes run the gamut of sweet, savory, spicy, saline, unctuous and fresh, so you would expect to have a bountiful and varied wine selection to go with them.
It gets complicated, fast. And more power to you if you feel like taking up that particular challenge. For our purposes, we’re going to focus on making great wine pairings with some of the iconic dishes you can always find at your favorite takeout spot. Top tip: when in doubt, Riesling is more than likely the answer.
- For oily and carb-forward foods such as noodles, fried dumplings and rice, you need an acidic white wine to cut through the fat. Consider Riesling (duh), Muscadet and Chablis.
- Sweet and sour meat dishes pair well with either very dry reds or aromatic whites. Your orange chicken will go great with a good Cab Sauv or Gewurztraminer.
- Spicy dishes of all kinds — stir frys, soups, and appetizers — greatly benefit from the accompaniment of sweet wines of all kinds. If you plan on biting into every pepper you find on your plate, a glass of Moscato or Shiraz will be your best friend.
Best Red Wine for Chinese Food
- 2019 Storm Single Vineyard Presqu’ile Gamay – $38
Red fruit in the nose and on the tongue, this spicy sweet Gamay gives a delightfully gentle yet complex finish that allows it to pair expertly with Chinese dishes on the hotter side. This slightly bubbly red should be served chilled alongside a serving of General Tso’s Chicken.
- 2017 Domaine Serene ‘Evenstad Reserve’ Pinot Noir – $85
This deep and luxurious Pinot tastes like the most delicious, spicy, fruity forest floor you’ve ever encountered. You can taste the richness of this wine’s Oregonian terroir with every sip. Pair with classic Peking Duck, or this dish of braised Chinese mushrooms and bok choy.
- 2019 Manos Andinas Mendoza Malbec – $20
A delectable berry pie in a bottle. This full-bodied Malbec is a tasting symphony of blackberries, black cherries, plums and blueberries dusted with baking spices. Rich and spicy, this wine is the perfect match for a bowl of beef with broccoli in oyster sauce.
- 2018 A Tribute to Grace Grenache – $30
Another sweet yet complex red offering floral, acidic, spicy and unctuous notes to the drinker. As a medium-bodied wine, this Grenache can stand up to heartier flavors without overwhelming the subtler aspects of a dish. Try with a side of Mongolian Beef.
Best White Wine for Chinese Food
- 2009 Domaine Bohn AOC Alsace Lieu-Dit Schieferberg Chapelle Oberhagel Riesling – $50
A Riesling like no other, this wonderful vintage first expresses floral and herbaceous notes including camphor, coriander and sandalwood. Following, it offers flavors of honeysuckle and a curious salinity on the tongue. Decant before serving and drink alongside an extra spicy Kung Pao Chicken.
- 2018 Willi Schaefer Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spätlese – $58
Another unique Riesling, this bottle from an iconic German winemaker leans into the citrus experiences with lime fruit and blossom both in the nose and on the palate. Honey and honeysuckle add an extra sweetness and promise to cool the spice of dishes like Saliva Chicken or Hot and Sour Soup.
- 2020 Par Fore the Course New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – $17
Fruity, tropical, bright and delicious, we’re having this Sauv Blanc for dessert despite its delightful dryness. Grassy, crisp and green, this is the perfect bottle to pair with greasy dishes like vegetable lo mein, classic potstickers or egg fried rice.
Best Rosé Wine for Chinese Food
- 2019 Clos Signadore Patrimonio Rosé – $40
This is the Rosé to have with your Chinese food. Sweet, fruity but with a surprising savoriness in every sip, it can stand up to meatier, more unctuous dishes, yet is subtle enough for veggie-heavy stir fries and soups. Have this bottle on hand the next time you make this Char Siu (Chinese barbecue pork.)
- 2020 Storm Watch Hill Vineyard Grenache Rosé – $28
Wrapping things up with a Grenache of a different color. This California Rosé was made for spicy foods on a hot day, and cools a burning palate with notes of watermelon, cherries and blood orange. Sip with a side of spicy sesame chicken.
How Argaux can Help
This article is only the beginning. The world of wine, like the world of Chinese cuisine, is vast and complex, and it’s going to take you more than a readthrough of a 1000-word listicle to understand how to pair vino with your favorite takeout.
That’s why Argaux has collaborated with Vanessa Price, author of Big Macs and Burgundy: Wine Pairings for the Real World to bring you a tasting kit designed to teach you how to pair wine with anything: from Crab Rangoon to Egg Flower Soup.
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