Talking about Chinese food as a whole is a bit like saying European food is all the same. Each province has its own very different food offerings. We probably know Cantonese and Szechuan best here in Ireland. A Chinese meal often involves a range of dishes served at the same time, so individual wine matches may be unnecessary. However, one of the white wines suggested here, along with a New World Pinot Noir, should cover most bases.
China is a major producer of wine, although most of the population prefer baijiu, their grain-based spirit, or beer. When they drink wine, it is usually medium-bodied and red, although white wine is becoming increasingly popular among younger female consumers.
As with most other cuisines, it’s worth pairing lighter dishes with similar wines, including Cantonese dishes such as steamed fish, stir-fried prawns, scallops and dim sum. Wines with a hint of sweet often go well with the sweet and sour character of many Chinese dishes. I also find dry wines with lots of ripe fruit work well.
Gewürztraminer is often mentioned as a good match for Chinese food and it works well. This also applies to the dry German, Austrian, Alsatian or New Zealand Riesling. I would definitely include Albariño from Rías Baixas, Elzas Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner from Austria, which is often one of the best matches of them all.
With roast duck, including the classic Peking duck with pancakes, I’d go for a fruity New World Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Chile, or California if you want to get out of the boat.
Fiery hot Szechuan dishes are more difficult and call for something more substantial, such as a great Malbec from Argentina, an Australian Shiraz or a full-bodied, warming red blend from the southern Rhone.
If you’re planning to celebrate the Chinese New Year in style, it’s worth remembering that sparkling wine goes with a wide variety of dishes, including many Chinese dishes. This includes champagne, French crémants, Spanish cava and Australian sparkling wine.
Viña Chocolan Merlot Reserva 2020, Valle de Maipo
14%, €11.21, reduced from €14.95
Smooth, smoky red berry fruit with a nicely rounded finish. Try it with roast pork belly, black bean casseroles.
Gigondas 2019, Remy Ferbras
14.5%, €18 reduced from €21.99
Rich and powerful with round ripe red fruits and hints of leather. Delicious with Szechuan beef or a spicy stew.
Sin Palabras Albarino 2020, Rías Baixas
A very attractive plump Albariño with juicy ripe pear fruits and a refreshing citrus touch. Goes well with all kinds of fish dishes.
Baggot Street wines; A taste of Spain; Green Man wines; Sweeney’s D3; Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown; The Nude Wine Company; D-six
Grüner Veltliner Alte Setzen Markus Huber 2021, Transiental
Bursting with juicy, mouth-watering pear and peach fruits plus some spicy ginger, finishing dry. Drink it with gingerly stir-fried chicken, steamed dim sum and all kinds of seafood.
Selected Dunnes Stores branches