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Tips for Pairing Drinks with Chinese Food

pairing wine with Chinese foodChinese food is often rich, soft, and spicy, but it's also incredibly diverse. The beverage accompanying it can make or break the meal. To enjoy the full flavor of the food and fully appreciate the experience, selecting the right wine or beer is essential. Below are some tips from food experts on how to do just that.

Blending German Wine and Asian Food for the Perfect Taste

Chris Horn, a sommelier at Purple Café in the Seattle area, suggests that German Riesling makes a good combination with nearly any Asian food. This is especially true for spicy dishes like Sichuan and Szechuan.

He recommends matching the sugar in the wine with the spice of the lunch or dinner. Auslese is a top-of-the-line brand, followed by Spatlese and Kabinett. If the dish leans more towards the sweet rather than the spicy side, diners should consider upping the sweetness factor of their Riesling. Other good choices in German wines are Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc.

Dim Sum

Beijing-style cuisine and Dim Sum offer diners with nearly endless lunch or dinner choices. The dishes may be light or heavy, while spices and heat can range from mild to intense. A good rule of thumb with Dim Sum is to stick to wines that have both significant weight and high acidity. For dishes containing spicy noodles, tofu, or rice, the primary concerns are heat and texture. In these cases, a wine with softer acidity helps to balance the high temperature.

What to Drink with Shrimp Fried Rice

Shrimp fried rice contains ingredients such as scrambled eggs, ginger, mango, and coconut that Americans love to eat. The only problem is that the rich flavors from these foods can get lost with certain types of wines. That is not the case with Fetzer or Hogue Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley wines or the Herman J. Weimer Gewurztraminer wine, which costs approximately twice as much.

The Best Red Wine Choices for Chinese Food

Malbec, New World Cab, and Shiraz/Syrah are all red wines that contain an abundance of ripe fruit and have only a moderate level of acidity. For dishes that come covered in barbeque sauce, Alamos Malbec is an ideal complement. This smooth and rich wine tastes especially flavorful when served chilled.

Chinese dishes on the lighter side pair well with Alpha Estate Rose. It has a sweet, tropical fruit flavor that Asian food enthusiasts are sure to appreciate. Jacob's Creek, made in Australia, goes well with Hunan style beef or lamb.

Don't Forget About Beer

Certain Chinese dishes go better with beer than they do with wine. Some pairings to consider include:

  • Saison: Its dry finish and lemon and pepper flavors go well with the peppercorns found in many noodle dishes.
  • Berliner Weisse: This beer has a lower alcohol content, slightly creamy texture, and mild acidity to cool the heat of some of the spicier Chinese foods.
  • Pepe Naro: Brewed with peppercorns, this beer has higher carbonation and a lighter body to counteract the chili oils.

For those who feel like they didn't get the combination just right, that is all the more excuse to keep trying their favorite Chinese dishes, wine, and beer.

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