The results of a unique competition in Hong Kong suggest that Asia-based judges may have a different take to Europeans on matching wine to Chinese food. The judging panel at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition awarded several medals to full-bodied reds in preference to the more common aromatic white wine styles such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer
The closest to a conventional award winner was the trophy awarded to a Wairau River Pinot Gris 2009 from New Zealand which was considered the best match with Cantonese dim sum by the panel of Asian-born and Asia-based judges. Runners up included three sparkling wines, two Chardonnays, two Sauvignons, two Pinot Noirs and an off-dry New Zealand Riesling (Framingham Classic)
In the Peking Duck category the surprise winner was an Argentinian Malbec, Judas Malbec 2006 rather than the usual Pinot Noir, Another Malbec, a Shiraz Viognier and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc won gold medals but the judges commented that the silver medal winning CignoMoro Primitivo di Manduria 2007 and bronze medal winning Quinta do Crasto Old Vines 2007 “also provide great matches”.
The shock trophy winner with abalone was a Jacob’s Creek sparkling rosé - the dish is more normally paired with Bordeaux in Hong Kong restaurants.
And with spicy Kung Pao chicken a sweet Californian Muscat, the Martin & Weyrich Moscato Allegro 2007 came out tops though interestingly two Shirazes were also singled out - the gold medal winning Eden Springs High Eden Shiraz 2007 and silver medal winning Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 2006.
“Wine works in a variety of ways to enhance food flavour, and a person’s individual taste preferences play a significant role" commented one of the IWSC judging panel, Debra Meiburg MW. "For example, some judges looked to a wine to neutralise the spice of Kung Pao Chicken, where as others preferred a wine to accentuate its intense heat." (It’s also interesting to note that both the Shirazes had some bottle age, which suggests that if you are drinking full-bodied reds with Chinese food it may be preferable to avoid younger wines.
Many of these awards upset conventional wisdom about which wines pair best with Chinese food indicating that the Asian palate may well differ from the European one. Allen Gibbons, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong IWSC Director commented, “We fully encourage global wine producers and regional importers to take a good look at the results to better understand the cultural taste preferences of the Asian wine consumer."
You can find the full list of medal winners at www.asiasbestwinesandspirits.com