How to pair wines with Chinese New Year snacks and dishes
Take your Chinese New Year snacking and feasting to the next level with these wine pairing suggestions.
This Chinese New Year favourite benefits greatly from a good pairing that its grease, and yet still exhibits all the meaty, smoky qualities of the snack. The Viu Manent Estate Collection Carmenere 2015 features red and dark fruits on the nose, with herbaceous, peppercorn-like flavours and a smoky edge that perfectly complements bak kwa. Silky, well-balanced tannins cut through the protein and the fat for a fresh finish.
For something like Cantonese roast you'd want a bold, rich red to cut through the fat of the meat. Max’s Shirax Cabernet is a blend o0f 77% shiraz and 23% cabernet sauvignon, and features defined tannins with a palate of blackberries and mulberries, with a hint of black olives and nori – all of which helps to open up the juicy flavours of the meat.
Roast suckling pig image from Yan Cantonese restaurant, pairing by Kate Rowe and Sam Stephens of Treasury Wine Estates
This de riguer Chinese New Year dish is best paired with something like chenin blanc, which has a zippy acidity and inherent sweetness that goes well with sweet-and-sour flavours like those found in yusheng. The de Trafford Chenin Blanc 2015 is a lively wine, with fresh apricot, ripe melon and lemon on the nose, evolving to show honeyed botrytis characters. The palate is moderately rich; round with a long, dry and nutty finish which plays well with the many different elements in the yusheng.
Crisp, fragrant love letters go great with the Penfolds Grandfather Tawny Port, which is made from a blend that include mouvedre, shiraz, and grenache. You'll find raisin, liquorice, and roasted walnuts on the nose, and fruitcake and vanilla on the palate. Served this chilled, and you'll find the toffee in the tipple really showing with the coconut in the love letters. Only available at DFS travel retail.
Fish maw soup is best with something full-bodied. The Penfolds Lot. 518 Spirited Wine with Baijiu makes a surprisingly good pairing as the baijiu-fortified shiraz is full of complex, floral and fruity notes that gets highlighted by the richness of the soup. Best served chilled between 12-14°C, the wine also brings out the slight pepperiness of the soup while adding its own aroma to the experience. The Penfolds Lot. 518 is available exclusively at DFS.
Filled with all manner of rich foods and a hearty gravy, pen cai needs a wine with significant tannic structure to stand up to it. The Luciano Sandrone Dolcetto D’Alba 2015 is a mouthful of sheer fruit, but with guts. It is fruit-forward, generous with mouth-filling flavours of black and red fruit and mountain herbs; low in acid yet high in tannins, which complements pen cai’s rich umami and unctuous texture.
This fish is usually eaten around Chinese New Year, as it also happens to be in season — the normally-bitter stomach of the fish turns into a mellow sweetness, and is filled with roe. For something a little unconventional, pair bai du yu with a bright, juicy bottle of red. Henry Fessy Beaujolais Villages 2015 is packed with 100% Gamay, offering lightly spicy notes and summer red fruits that wouldn’t mask the flavours of a fish heavy with roe. It has a remarkable softness, natural, refreshing acidity and mellow tannins that won’t tire your palate. Drink it cool, and not chilled to death.
This festive Teochew dish pairs well with the Californian Beringer Founders Estate Chardonnay, an oaked chardonnay featuring pear, apple, and ripe tropical fruits on the palate. The creamy oak flavours balance the texture of the sea cucumber and the thick, umami gravy, while the minced meat—usually pork—allows the ripe fruits of the wine to shine through.
Image of braised sea cucumber dish from Shang Palace, pairing by Kate Rowe and Sam Stephens of Treasury Wine Estates