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Chinese Food and Wine Pairing – Perfect Matching

 

“Chinese food” can hardly be put under one umbrella, with ingredients and style of cooking ranging from region to region. Many people say Riesling is a safe pairing option with Chinese food, but since this fare really runs the flavour gamut, there is no simple solution for matching a wine to this entire cuisine (sorry!).

 

This doesn’t mean pairing a wine with your next Chinese meal has to be complicated, though. Choosing your dish before choosing your wine is always a good place to start, but it’s an especially good move when ordering Chinese.

Chinese food ranges in flavour, texture and taste, so your wine pairings should vary as well

 

Begin by pulling out the most prominent flavour profile or taste that will be in your meal – for example, spice, sweetness, sour, fat, salt… you get the idea. Here are some of the main ones you’ll come across in this cuisine, and a few thoughts on what to drink with them.

 

Spicy Dishes

  • Aromatic whites that are quite dry are a great choice here – try a cool climate Riesling from Alsace, Austria or even Australia. Gewürrtraminer or Pinot Gris are also good options as they are slightly sweet and help to balance out the heat. These wines are a treat with many Sichuan dishes. Kung Pao Chicken, please!

Many Chinese dishes pack heat from chillies or Sichuan pepper – try pairing them with an off-dry Riesling 

 

Sweetness

  • A lot of Chinese dishes incorporate sugar into cooking, often balanced with hoisin or soy, particularly in the form of rich sauces. Try a light bodied New World Pinot Noir or even a fruity rosé with chicken, pork or veggie stir fries and noodle dishes – these fruity wines will help balance the complexity of sweet, sour and salt in the food.

 

Protein

  • Fatty meat dishes like Char Siu, pork belly and Peking duck call for a big red with some tannins, which will help cut through the rich protein – think cabernets, merlot and shiraz. If you’re talking seafood, dishes may be a bit more delicate, but typically still boast complex flavours in this cuisine. Try a fuller bodied white such as Chardonnay or Viognier with something like whole cooked snapper or prawns.


Fried Foods

  • No need to save sparkling for celebrations – something acidic, clean and refreshing like a Cava, Prosecco or Champagne is the perfect match to umami-packed fried foods like crispy spring rolls and wontons. Sparkling rosés also have their place here.

Sparkling wines are a great option for fried Chinese dishes like wontons and spring rolls 

 

There are no steadfast rules when it comes to wine and Chinese food – in fact, there are dozens of wines that will fit the bill depending on the dish. Explore your options, and don’t just stick to Riesling!

 

You can find more advice on pairing Riesling with food here, and can see all of our food and wine pairing suggestions on our blog.

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Jill Haapaniemi

Jill Haapaniemi

Jill is a lover of all things food and wine. As a food blogger and recipe developer, she is passionate about sharing meals with others, never without a bottle of something to enhance the experience. She spends her free time at her partner’s family winery just outside of Melbourne, and can usually be found drinking Oregon Pinot, wines from the Rhône Valley or Victorian Shiraz.
Jill Haapaniemi

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