What Wines to Pair with These 6 Chinese Regional Cuisines

By Jocelyn Richards, October 28, 2016

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Sweet, sour, spicy or smoked: a typical Chinese meal can go in literally any (or every) direction. So how does a sommelier tackle the challenge? This month, we consulted a handful of experts to learn what wines pair best with regional classics. 

1. Sichuan 


(kung pao chicken or mapo doufu)

“With super spicy and oily foods, you could go two ways: pair them with full-bodied wine from Australia, cabernets or merlots, or go with sweet wines that help soften the spice.” – Eric Arroyo, Torres China

“Rieslings have always been my favorite with Sichuan food, but lately I’ve been wanting to drink Austrian Gruner Veltliner, which has the nose of a riesling, palate of top quality pinot grigio and finish of crisp sauvignon blanc.” – Philip Scott, Montrose Fine Wines

“Tyrrell’s Lost Block Semillon. Semillon has more sugar content, and sweetness can handle spicy flavor, so this kind of white wine pairs well with spicy food.” – Nancy Yang, Torres China

2. Cantonese 


(dim sum and char siu)

“Oaked wines with a similar smoky taste as char siu.” – Doria Xu, Summergate Fine Wines and Spirits

“Salentein Portillo Malbec. Malbec have round tannin and spicy aromas. The flavor is not very strong, just like char siu, which is often served with a sweet sauce but retains a hint of toasty flavor.” – Nancy Yang

“Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz.” – Ronny Yi, ASC Fine Wines

3. Beijing 


(Peking duck)

“A cracking pairing with Beijing duck is South African pinotage. With juicy bramble fruit and a structured, rewarding palate, it makes a great match.” – Philip Scott 

“Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne. Beijing duck is juicy meat, so it’s good to pair with the juicy pinot noir grape, which is light to medium body, and has subtle strawberry and red cherry aromas that won’t cover the flavor of the duck.” – Nancy Yang

4. Fujian 


(seafood or oyster omelets) 

“Chablis from Burgundy or pinot grigio from Italy, which has a hint of salted taste.” – Doria Xu

“Oysters! It’s got to be Champagne, right?” – Philip Scott

“Brown Brothers Sparkling Moscato.” – Ronny Yi

5. Jiangsu 


(salted dried duck or beggar’s chicken)

“I would have to go with a classy Burgundian Rully or a full, complex chardonnay from Australia.  Bold in flavor but subtle enough to care for the bird.” – Philip Scott

“Le Rose de Mouton Cadet. Salty food can match with medium tannin wine, and chicken and duck easily match white wine, so rose wine is a good choice.” – Nancy Yang

“Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier from Eden Valley.” – Ronny Yi

6. Hunan


(smoked pork with green beans)

“Pork and pinot noir are a treat to pair together. A cheeky, fruity little number from New Zealand would do the trick. Also I find chilled reds work really well with dishes like this.” – Philip Scott 

“Miguel Torres Santa Digna Estelado Sparkling Rose. Smoked pork has a fatty, salty flavor, and dry green beans are also salty, so we can use the bubble to match it. Rose has a medium body that can complement the salty flavor.” – Nancy Yang

For a flexible, one-size-fits-all solution, our sommeliers recommend sparkling – which helps cleanse the palate – or rose, which can easily complement white or red meat. No matter your choice, be sure it’s a wine you genuinely enjoy – even a match made in heaven won’t fool the partiality of your taste buds!

READ MORE: 5 Things: Fine Wines in China

[Cover image via WSJ]

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