Chinese New Year: What Wine to Drink?

“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).
Fiona Beckett
With many people across the world celebrating the Chinese New Year Festival, we thought it only apt to provide you with our favourite wines to match with their local cuisine.
The celebration of the new lunar year, which in 2015 is the year of the goat, is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. Lasting fifteen days, the official London celebrations, which claim to be the largest outside Asia, take place mainly around the West End and there is a parade and main stage in Trafalgar Square on 22 February from 10am until 6pm.
The Chinese now own 100 Bordeaux Chateaux and China is now the principal export market for Bordeaux wine (The Telegraph, January 2015) although a red Bordeaux in the UK is rarely seen as the go-to wine to drink with the spicy, flavoursome and varied Chinese food. Here’s our pick on alternative wines to match with this vibrant cuisine...

A sparkling wine, or even better a sparkling rosé is an ideal match for dim sum with its low alcohol and high fruit: try the Fantinel Rosé Brut NV, £12.99 a bottle. A bright, dry, pretty pink rosé with a touch of richness on the red-fruit scented palate. Like most Champagnes, this beautiful Italian sparkling wine is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Refined and elegant with persistent mousse and a lengthy, cleansing finish, the clarity of flavour makes it an excellent match with dim sum. 

Riesling from Alsace is the classic selection for a cuisine as varied as Chinese. The Paul & Philippe Zinck Riesling Portrait Range 2012 at £12.99, full of flavour and complexity, is very consumer friendly. Full of flavour and complexity and lemony with mineral notes, this is a full-bodied, dry Riesling whose acidity will cool off your palate: it will go exceptionally well with a Chinese feast.

Alternatively, a German Riesling Kabinett from no other than the highly regarded S. A. Prüm makes for a delicious accompaniment to a Chinese. The slight sweetness in the wine means it will match with a large variety of flavours and counter the spice present in many Chinese dishes. Lightly sweet and off dry with a high acidity, this German Riesling is a versatile match for food. The conventionally low-alcohol levels associated with Riesling from the enduringly classic region that is Mosel enables this wine to retain its youthful vigour and aromatic charm and at £13.99 it really is an iconic wine at a very accessible price.

Flor de Campo Pinot Noir 2011 is a cherry and berry scented wine which shows a touch of savoury-spice on the richly flavoured, bright fruit palate. This sweetly fruited Pinot Noir combines perfectly with the touch of spice in crispy duck pancakes. The beautifully crafted Flor de Campo Pinot Noir has won plenty of acclaim, with the 2010 vintage earning a lofty 17 points from Jancis Robinson, and if you like good Pinot this is an absolute must. Down to £12 from £18.99, this is a steal.
The high acidity and red fruit flavours of a Barbera d’Alba means that it is a great partner to the more robust flavours of Chinese cuisine. The refreshing acidity counteracts the intense and layered spices and the sweetness of this cuisine; perfect for sauces that are plum or soy based. Enrico Serafino Barbara d’Alba, at £12.99, is a beautiful wine that is intense yet boasts subtle aromas of cherries, currants and spices that is deliciously followed by an attractive acidity: a surprisingly good pairing!
A final wine, purely because it's the year of the Goat...
Goats do Roam 'The Goatfather' 2012 was £12.49, now £9.99
This cleverly named wine is an intruiging blend of Italian varietals; Sangiovese from Darling, Barbera and Nebbiolo from Paarl, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch. A delicately pronounced yet lusciously full-bodied with plenty of red fruit on the nose. This may not be the wine of choice for Chinese food, but, just for the name's sake, we couldn't resist. Eat with lamb chops.
Fun facts about Chinese New Year
  Image by Daniel Lee
Ancient Chinese followed the lunar calendar which originated in 2600 BC. There is no exact date for the New Year and it changes yearly.
The second day of the New Year celebration is believed to be the birthday of all dogs; as such, all pets and stray animals are well fed by people as a ritual.
China witnesses the world’s largest human migration (famously known as Chunyan) during the festival as over a billion people board planes, trains, boats, buses and cars to reunite with their families.
The phrase “Happy New Year” in Chinese is “Gung Hei Fat Choi” or “May You Have Good Fortune”.
On the stroke of midnight on Chinese New Year, every door and window in a Chinese house is opened to allow the old year to go out.
 Main blog image by Paul Hudson

Written by: Lucy Prosser

Lucy Prosser 


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