Red wine and Chinese food are often thought to be incompatible. Many feel that full-bodied red wines either compete aggressively with spicy Chinese dishes or simply overwhelm them. If my dinners are any indication, this is very much the case. So when I planned the long distance wine pairing with Kirstin of Vin de la Table I decided to see if I could finally find a red wine to match spicy Chinese food.
It all started with a cheery comment on my very first Chinese food and wine pairing post back in July. Kirstin, who lives in California and writes the blog Vin de la Table, wrote that she would be interested in attempting a long distance wine pairing joint-post with me. I was fascinated by her suggestion. Pairing European style wine with Chinese food, or Asian food for that matter, has always been a contentious subject among Asian food connoisseurs. Many feel that Chinese food is best paired with traditional Chinese rice wine or liquor, but many others have successfully paired grape wine. So it is with this expectation that Kirstin and I embarked on an adventure to pair wine with a few of my recipes. As part of our joint effort Kirstin created a Chinese food and wine pairing guide to accompany our posts. I hope you’ll find her guide and our posts useful.
During my Wine Pairing Chinese Banquet I challenged a few friends in the wine business to find wines that would complement Chinese food. We ended up with 20 bottles of wine, including one corked, paired towards all ten items on the menu. Many of the selections were rather unconventional but really worked quite well. With each course we compared the merits of each selected wine and even attempted impromptu pairings. There were a few disappointments but most were overwhelmingly successful.
Have you ever wondered why the wine lists in your average Chinese restaurants are so limited or non-existent? One would think that with a cuisine so wide-ranging and creative, there would be a sophisticated wine culture accompanying Chinese food. Well, there is. It’s just not the same wine we know of. When mentioning “wine” to a Chinese you need to differentiate between the indigenous “grain-based wine” made from rice, sorghum or barley and the imported European “grape-based wine.” But it doesn’t mean grape wine is not fitting for Chinese food.