Talking about Chinese food as one entity is a bit like saying European food is all the same. Each province has its own very different range of foods. We are probably most familiar with Cantonese and Szechuan here in Ireland. At a Chinese meal, a range of dishes tends to be served at the same time, so individual wine matches may be redundant. However, one of the suggested white wines featured here, along with a New World Pinot Noir, should cover most bases.
China is a big wine producer, although most of the population prefer baijiu, their grain-based spirit, or beer. If they do drink wine, it tends to be medium-bodied and red, although white wine is growing in popularity among younger woman consumers.
As with most other cuisines, it is worth trying to match lighter foods with similar wines, including Cantonese foods such as steamed fish, stir-fried prawns, scallops and dim sum. Wines with a touch of sweetness often go well with the sweet/sour nature of many Chinese dishes. I find dry wines with plenty of ripe fruit also work well.
Gewürztraminer is often mentioned as a good food match for Chinese food and it does work well. So too does dryish German, Austrian, Alsace or New Zealand Riesling. I would certainly include Albariño from Rías Baixas, Alsace Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner from Austria, which is often one of the best matches of all.
[ Celebrate Chinese New Year with these traditional favourite dishes ]
With roast duck, including the classic Peking duck with pancakes, I would go for a fruity New World Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Chile, or California if you want to push the boat out.
Fiery hot Szechuan dishes are more difficult, calling out for something more substantial, such as a big Malbec from Argentina, an Australian Shiraz or a full-bodied warming red blend from the southern Rhône.
If you intend celebrating the Chinese New Year in style, it is worth remembering that sparkling wine goes with a wide variety of foods, 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 fruits with a nicely rounded finish. Try it with roast belly of pork, black bean stews.
Gigondas 2019, Rémy Ferbras
14.5%, €18 reduced from €21.99
Rich and powerful with rounded ripe red fruits and hints of leather. Good with Szechuan beef or a spicy stew.
Sin Palabras Albariño 2020, Rías Baixas
A very attractive plump Albariño with succulent ripe pear fruits and a refreshing citrus note. Goes well with all manner of seafood 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 succulent, mouth-watering pear and peach fruits plus some spicy ginger, finishing dry. Drink it with gingery stir-fried chicken, steamed dim sum, and all kinds of seafood.
Selected branches of Dunnes Stores