Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse kitchens featuring all sorts of dishes and styles. Pairing Chinese cuisine with wine might be a bit unorthodox for many people, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. On the contrary, proper wine can only enhance your Chinese dish.
One way to approach wine serving with Chinese food is through different cooking styles. For example, the Sichuan style revolves around the heat of the spice. That naturally means an off-dry wine that carries a bit of sweetness is recommended. Then there is Cantonese cuisine that is unembellished and fresh as almost all other Chinese cooking styles, which means dry riesling is your best wine option.
So, if you want to take the simple road, then it’s either dry or off-dry riesling wine.
But now you must be wondering, how should you know the difference between an off-dry and dry riesling wine?
Well, the good news is you don’t have to be a sommelier with ten years of experience in tasting wines to tell the difference. As a matter of a fact, you don’t have to be a sommelier at all. Just look for the indicator on the back labels. There you can find the wine’s sweetness. Off-dry wines are those in which the arrow points to the medium-dry span. If the arrow points towards a quarter of the scale from its left side to the halfway point, then you are looking at a dry wine.
If you’re looking for a more traditional pairing, although originating in Japan, plum wine can be an incredibly popular pairing with Chinese food. Since plum wine helps to highlight both sweet and spicy notes in the underlying dishes, it has increased dramatically in popularity over the last decade and it is not uncommon to find Japanese plum wine gracing the wine lists of high end Chinese restuarants.
Popular Chinese Dishes and Wine Selection
Sharing is a big part of Chinese cuisine and culture. Almost regularly Chinese food is served on communal plates so that everyone can enjoy themselves equally. Even if it just one person, you still might get your food on a communal plate accompanied by one of those giant serving spoons. The sharing part is also true for wine drinking.
Below are recommendations on what wines to have with some of the most popular Chinese dishes.
Chow means that the noodles have been stir-fried. That can mean only one thing – you need a wine that can simply cut balance the weight of the oil. To that end, it is best to choose a sparkling wine, rosé, or an off-dry riesling. These wines are also much suitable for fried rice as well. It is the wine’s acidity and fruitiness that can balance the weight of the oil.
There are more than one thousand dim dishes. Typically, they are served either for breakfast or brunch. Many Dim Sum dishes are made of vegetables, chopped meat, or seafood, wrapped in wrappings or dough, and then steamed. Because of all that, sparkling wine is the logical choice. Prosecco, Cava, Champagne, or whatever sparkling wine you choose.
When you mix noodles with vegetables, your choice should be a sparkling wine, Gruner Veltliner, or Sauvignon Blanc.
Fans of Chinese cuisine know this dish too well – the fatty meat, the plum sauce, the crispy skin, and of course the pancakes. Fans of white wine should opt for a Chenin Blanc or maybe even off-dry Riesling. On the other hand, fans of red wines should go for pinot noir. Those that have a taste for something bolder should go with a merlot.
Moo Shu Pork
This mouth-watering dish is soaked in Umami and wrapped in thin pancakes. Those that want to stick to red wines should choose Cabernet Franc or Beaujolais, whereas fans of white wines are best suited with off-dry Reisling.
Ma Po Tofu
The time has come for the Sichuan spice to be added to the mix. Choose a wine that is low both on alcohol and tannin. If any of them are high, the heat will get hotter, and you don’t want to settle into that territory. If available, choose wines such as off-dry Chenin Blanc or Pinot Noir.
Beef & Broccoli
Beef and broccoli is a savory dish that goes perfectly with red silky wines like grenache, Carmenere, GSM blend, or merlot.
Kung Pao Chicken
This is quite a spicy dish that always plays well with Gewurztraminer or some off-dry Riesling. These wines go with spicy dishes like Michael Jordan playing basketball.