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Wine Pairing and Chinese Food

The pairing of wine with Chinese food is a mystery to many of us. We all know the basics: red meat and red wine; white fish and white wine. And if you’re eating goat cheese, you’ll probably reach for a Sauvignon Blanc. Snacking on pretzels? Take a sip of Tawny Port. But what do you drink when you’re eating Chinese Food?

Take Mock Eel for example. It is not a fish (does an eel even qualify as a fish?). It tastes meaty, but it is not meat. This is starting to sounds like some kind of riddle from Game of Thrones. Red Zinfandels, Shiraz or Syrah wines go well with your classic grilled steak, but what compliments the exotic braised Shitake mushroom (this is the main ingredient in A Single Pebble’s mock eel)?

Here’s the general rule of thumb (from Wine Folly):
– Acidity in wine pairs well with fatty and sweet foods.
– Fatty foods need either an acidic or high alcohol wine, otherwise the wine will taste flabby.
– Bitter (aka Tannic) wine can be balanced with a sweet food.
– Salty shouldn’t compete with acidity in wine. Use sparingly as necessary to keep sharpness in the meal.
– Sweet food/wine benefits from a little acidity.
– Alcohol [content] can be used to cut through fatty foods or balance a sweet dish.

Wine pairing can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. For Chef Chiuho Duval, wine is what brought her to cooking in the first place. She even moved to the United Sates in order to study it. “For me, wine is super romantic,” she says. Sure she enjoys the flavor, but the attraction for her is in the story behind the wine. For her, the hard work, climate, people, lifestyles, and history behind each of the wines she selects for the wine list at A Single Pebble create a deeper connection than do the traditional rules of wine pairing.

That said, Pinot Noirs do pair well with Chinese food, they are lighter and have higher acidity. Champagne also pairs well with Chinese food (for some people, champagne pairs well with everything). Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are also very good with Chinese food. The flavor profile of these grapes is semi-sweet, high acidity, and a little bit on the fruity side. This helps them cut through the soy sauce and spicy flavors common to Chinese food.

But we still have not answered the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question: What will you drink with your Mock Eel? Take a look at Chiuho’s wine list and let your heart decide. Or ask your server for a recommendation.

To your health.

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