Top pairings | 6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

Top pairings

6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

Asking which wine is the best match for Chinese food is a bit like looking for the best match for European food - it in no way reflects the diversity of Chinese cuisine.

That said many of us will probably be enjoying a Chinese meal this week - either in a restaurant or from a takeaway and wonder what to drink with it.

For most westerners who don’t share the Chinese reverence for red wine, white wine is a more appealing option with the sweet-sour flavours of many popular Chinese dishes though as with other meals you may want to change wines when you switch from seafood and chicken to red meat (especially beef).

Here are my six top picks:

Sparkling wine - particularly if you’re eating dim sum or other fried dishes. Not necessarily champagne - an Australian sparkling wine with a touch of sweetness, especially a sparkling rosé will do fine.

Riesling - probably the best all-rounder with the majority of dishes as it usually has a touch of sweetness. Alsace, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Washington State - it truly doesn’t matter too much where it comes from. This off-dry Clare Valley riesling was a great hit with my Chinese New Year feast last year.

Torrontes - I’ve been struck for a while by how good floral Argentinian Torrontes is with spicy food - a less full-on alternative to gewurztraminer which goes brilliantly with some dishes (like duck) but isn’t such a good all-rounder.

Strong dry fruity rosé - such as the new wave of Portuguese rosés and Bordeaux rosé - not the pale delicate Provençal kind. Surprisingly good with Chinese food.

Pinot noir - obviously a particularly good match with crispy duck pancakes but if you choose one with a touch of sweetness such as those from Chile, New Zealand or California, flexible enough to handle other dishes too.

A generous fruity but not too tannic red - which is of course what many Chinese themselves would drink, particularly red Bordeaux. I’d probably go for a shiraz-cabernet or GSM (grenache/syrah/mourvèdre blend) myself but only with meatier dishes, dishes with aubergine or dishes in black bean sauce. A good cru Beaujolais like Morgon would be another option.

For a more extensive list of Chinese food pairings see Pairing Wine with Chinese Cuisine and The Best Pairings for a Chinese Stir-Fry.

And for some more adventurous pairings check out these sommeliers views on Serious Eats.

Image © somegirl -

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Comments: 3 (Add)

Wine Jam on February 19 2018 at 18:59

Very nice breakdown of the wines to choose !! May I also suggest a brut sparkling riesling !

Delay No More on January 28 2016 at 11:14

here in China, we like dip soup dumplings in Cabernet Sauvignon wine because rice wine vinegar not sour enough! We also mix coke with the above to achieve sweet and sour double happiness.

Paul Hillsmith. on January 30 2014 at 08:34

Can't believe you didn't mention German Riesling!

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