Chinese New Year (CNY) Wine Pairing

Whilst I find myself recuperating from Xmas and New Year's festivities and reminiscing a trip to the vineyards at the start of 2018, Chinese New Year has crept up and is just around the corner! At the time of this post, we're just 28 days away from one of the most important time of the year.


A time when extended families re-connect, in rejoice or in reluctance (just being real!), a time when we wish for and wish to others great health, prosperity and happiness, and a time when we forgive ourselves for indulging in some goodies, a disregard from New Year's resolutions just a month ago, because its Chinese New Year!


Chinese New Year brings great memories for me when it comes to food and I wanted to share some with you of my favorites and the wines that would pair well with them.


Yu Sheng (Lo Hei)


Yu Sheng is a quintessential Chinese New Year salad and an absolute favorite for many. My love for the dish is torn between its consumption and its dismantling, mixing and tossing of the perfectly-arranged ingredients into the air with vocal bursts of auspicious phrases. Regardless, I find the blend of spices, herbs, sauces, sashimi slices and veggies absolutely refreshing and appetizing.


The Sauvginon Blanc Semillon comes to mind when pairing with this dish. It's light and refreshing on the palate, with a citrus tang. The nose reveals grassy, herbaceous characters and citrus blossoms. This is going to be such a romantic and exciting pairing! Neither will overpower one another. They share so much in common and its going to bring out so much more nuanced sensations than one can imagine! 


Try: Rockcliffe Quarram Rocks Sauvignon Blanc Semillon


Pen Cai


I love a really good Pen Cai, where dried mushrooms, abalone, braised meat, fish maw, bean curd, sea cucumber and more fabulous ingredients are slow-cooked together in a claypot for hours. Their juices, their essences and all their phenomenal flavors are fully extracted and come together in such a wonderful harmony! YUM!


I would suggest a light red such as a Pinot Noir. The braised meat is nuanced in flavor characters, soft and not overpowering. It's going to be juicy with salty soy sauce, infused by the stunning taste profiles of seafood and mushrooms. The Pinot Noir is gentle on the tannins and medium-bodied, allowing you to enjoy the braised meat and savour the layered palate structures on the very elegant wine.


And you know what, the Pinot Noir will be stunning with the sea cucumber and other seafood. The stock sauce and meat juices just make the seafood so agreeable with a light red!


Try: Galafrey Dry Grown Pinot Noir - the wine's smoky aroma and plum flavors go so well!


Bak Kwa


Although I'm not big on Bak Kwa, this salty-sweet dried meat jerky is my wife's favorite and so here's a tip for the missus.


It is widely agreed, among professionals whom I know of, that the Riesling is the ideal pairing for Bak Kwa. Rieslings are generally aromatic, refreshingly crisp and also acidic, which balances with the spicy and strongly-flavoured nature of the meat. And of course, as a region known for producing phenomenal Rieslings, you've gotta enjoy Bak Kwa with wines from the Great Southern!


Personally, I would like to see how the Bak Kwa fair with a red wine. The Bak Kwa holds a concoction of spices and sauces, and can be quite meaty at times. How will a medium-bodied, elegant red fair? Hmm... I'll give that a try and report back to you! 


Try: Poacher's Ridge Riesling





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