Chinese food is often a meal eaten out of the carton with good friends and laughter, movies and board games. Be it Christmas, New Year’s or just a random Friday night, Chinese takeaway is a treat. For some reason, most of us don’t enjoy it with wine. This may be because certain flavors in wine and Chinese do not mesh, causing a harsh or off taste. There are wines that pair beautifully with Chinese. Here are the best varietals to pair with your next Chinese dinner.
The key to pairing wine and Chinese is selecting a rich wine. If you like white wines, consider opening a Pinot Gris over a Pinot Grigio. Pinot Gris’ are richer and better balance the taste of Chinese. A Marsanne is another good choice. This white grape from the Rhone Valley provides a beautiful gold wine with sweet but mellow notes on the aroma and a delicious nutty taste. Stay away from Sauvignon Blancs, which clash with Chinese and become overly tart on the palette. There are some nicely priced, great Marsannes out of Australia – look for 2007, 2010 and 2012 vintages to enjoy the best. Red wine drinkers should take note that is a white that even the most loyal of red drinkers enjoy due to its flavor profile.
Whites with a unique flavor profile that do not taste young are the key with pairing wine with Chinese. Hazelnut, vanilla, spice and honey are the flavors you should go for. If you can’t find a Marsanne, ask your local wine shop to help you select.
If you’re a lover of reds, you want to go for full-bodied reds — something that will coat the mouth and be hard to see through. Berries and some herbal notes work well. Especially if you’re ordering something red-meat heavy, a Garnacha or other heavy red will do the trick. Another option, although not one that is loved by all, is the black, meaty Mourvedre. Try to find a bottle if you have adventurous tastes!
Another option is a medium-bodied Nero D’Avola which has hints of blueberry, tobacco and spice. This wine is known for its amazing taste at a bargain price. If you’re unable to find a Nero D’Avola, consider another medium-red like a Merlot or Chianti. Lean toward those with notes of spice and berries.
The next time you’re in the mood for Chinese food, consider grabbing a bottle of wine and a few glasses to complement your cartons and chopsticks. Which wines do you most enjoy with your Chinese food?