Be Inspired Wine Pairing
In collaboration with Roberto Dessanti of Euro Concepts
Complete your vicarious tour of China with these drinks chosen to complement Asian food.
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Matching wine with Asian food can be tricky as the bold flavours can overpower some wines rendering them virtually tasteless. I remember enjoying an especially delicious Aussie riesling years ago at the old Wockpool at Darling Harbour, taking a spoonful of a curry then going back to the wine and it literally had no flavour … it might as well have been a glass of water! Having said that, riesling is one of my go-to matches with Asian food, but an off-dry style such as a German or Alsatian riesling usually works best. Despite being continents apart, food-friendly European wines are often easier to match with Asian flavours and I’ve enjoyed compiling this selection of Italian classics to accompany our month of Chinese.
Zenato Soave Classico DOC 2018
The fruit-forward, stone fruit flavour of this wine from Veneto is a great match with the sweet prawns and punchy garlic chives in our pot-sticker dumplings … just as it would match a dish of tiny garlic shrimp from the Venetian lagoon.
Planeta Rosato Sicilia DOC 2020
This Sicilian rosé made from bold-flavoured nero d’avola and shiraz is a great match for the bold flavours in the punchy sauce dressing our bang bang chicken … don’t let it’s pretty pale pink colour fool you!
Luigi Bosca Barolo DOCG 2016
Lamb and cumin are big complex flavours that need a savoury, food-friendly wine. I found a great match in this Piedmonte Barolo. The soft yet grippy tannins cut through the rich lamb and the dark fruit notes wrap up the sweetness of the charred onions perfectly.
As glutinous rice balls are traditionally served at the Lantern Festival to mark the final day of Lunar New Year celebrations, we thought we’d get festive with one of our favourite bubbles: Bortolomiol Miol Prosecco. Add half a nip (or more) of the ginger soup for sweetness and the same of Nardini amaro (for balancing bitterness) if you like and toast the Year of the Tiger. It’s really up to you how much sweet and how much bitter you want to add!
Borgo Magredo Pinot Nero Grave DOC 2019
Think duck … think pinot noir … why look any further? I love this savoury pinot nero from Friuli – it even has a whiff of dried cherry, which is another of my favourite flavours with duck!
Cantina Kellerei Tramin Gewürztraminer 2019
I had to include a gewürztraminer in this pack – it’s such a perfect wine for spicy dishes! It holds its own really well with salt too, making this wine from German-speaking Alto Adige pretty perfect with our pipis in black bean and chilli.
Borgo Magredo Sauvignon Grave DOC 2017
Sauvignon blanc is one of the standout wines from the Grave wine region of Friuli in Italy’s northeast and Borgo Magredo’s is one of my alltime favourite food wines! It just seems to harmonise with everything, including the beautiful tumble of fresh herbs and raw onion in our Guangxi-style pork salad.
Nardini Amaro (700ml)
Desserts are often a challenge for wine matches, especially when they contain a lot of sugar. Thankfully the toffee coating on our candied walnuts adds a touch of bitterness, which led me to think amaro (Italian herbal digestivi that literally means ‘bitter’). Nardini’s works a treat, especially with the earthy walnuts. It’s a great finish to any meal … so we’re sending you a full bottle!
Please call Roberto Dessanti on 0420 904 255 with any questions.
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Pairing Drinks with Asian Food
Grape-based wine isn’t a traditional part of the Asian table so, in the west where it tends to be the default beverage, pairing drinks with Asian meals can be challenging. Many beers work well, they’re cold, refreshing and generally stand up to spice and strong flavours, as do some cocktails, especially those with a touch of sweetness or incorporating Asian herbs and spices like ginger and kaffir lime.
The world of wine is diverse however and many styles and grape varieties pair beautifully with Asian flavours; you just need to keep a few guidelines in mind. Here’s my cheat-sheet to matching wine and Asian food.
* Off-dry wines with a touch of sweetness are the easiest starting point – you almost can’t go wrong with Alsatian or German rieslings – they echo the sweetness and balance the saltiness in many Asian dishes.
* Gewürztraminer is another safe bet with its lychee and rose aromas and fuller-flavour that holds its own with bold-flavours and chilli.
* The herbaceousness of a good sauvignon blanc (think Adelaide Hills rather than Marlborough) is a natural with herb-laced dishes such as Thai and Vietnamese salads.
* Some fuller-bodied white, such as chenin blanc (especially off-dry), can work well, but steer clear of oaked whites like Aussie chardonnays, as chilli tends to unpleasantly accentuate the woody notes in them.
* Rosés often pair well, especially ones with a touch of fruit on the nose and palate.
* Bubbles can be refreshing, especially with deep-fried dishes. The complex, sometimes slightly funky flavours of naturally sparkling wines, Pet Nats, can work particularly well.
* Speaking of natural wines, white wines made with some skin-contact (called amber or orange wines) hold their own well with bold Asian flavours.
* Light to medium-bodied reds, like pinot noir (Burgundy), gamay (Beaujolais) and some fruity grenaches work well; especially ones that can take a light chilling. Avoid big, tannic reds as chilli and other spices can clash with them making them taste thin and metallic.
* Especially with sweet dishes, I like an amaro (Italian herbal bitter), like the Nardini we’ve matched with the candied walnuts this month.
Most importantly, remember that no one can tell you what tastes good to you. If you like it – drink it!