Manila, Philippines, September 29, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Challenges and strategies
Pairing wine with Chinese food has always been regarded as a tricky if not impossible proposition. There are three reasons to support this anxiety.
(1) Chinese food is too well integrated – most dishes are complete with balancing components of starch, vegetables and meat – leaving very little role for a wine to play in that equation.
(2) Traditional Chinese food does not use Western wine in the cooking. The easy-way-out of drinking the same type of wine that is used to cook the food isn’t all that useful here.
(3) This one is actually the ultimate killer really. It is a psychological barrier. A lot of people approach this problem with a pre-conceived notion that wine won’t really work with Chinese food.
Basic wine pairing techniques revolves around two strategies namely (1) similarity and (2) contrast. An example of a classic application of similarity is Beef Burgundy with a red burgundy, and for contrast, Foie Gras with Sauternes. With Chinese food, the inclination is towards contrasts. Similarities are not easy to find especially with stuff like fermented bean curd and shrimp paste. But this only applies to the flavor component.
The other important factor – weight – must be matched appropriately especially with the liquid part of the dish. A lot of heavy dishes in Chinese cuisine also come with high flavor intensity. Finding a wine with muscles and weight is not a problem. What is challenging is to find one of those that has good acidity and is not tannic. This kind of combinations happens mostly with very good wine only.
Another factor that comes very much into play not necessarily in wine selection but more in the fine-tuning of food preparation is the serving temperature. Some Chinese dishes are designed to be taken steaming hot. There is no wine that is designed to match that kind of serving temperatures. If these dishes accidentally make their way onto the menu, the serving temperatures have to be reduced a little.
One might also take note of the fact that Chinese cuisine is evolving also. Usage of strong bullion-based stock sometimes laced with MSG is fast going out of style, replaced by more organic bases. Covering up flaws of not-so-fresh ingredients with heaps of ginger and leeks for example become less and less of a necessity. Kitchens have much more reliable access to fresher ingredients of much higher quality and that gives chefs the confidence to showcase their natural flavors. Then came the introduction of (western) wine into traditional Chinese recipes both in caramelizing and in braising. This greatly exposed these foods to opportunities for better wine pairing.
In almost all cases, pairing wine with food is not always a desk job. With one variable – wine - in the formula being a constant, it is often necessary to tweak the food component a little to give the pairing a lending hand. A competent kitchen can make all sorts of impossible things work out nicely. There is a considerable amount of “laboratory” work behind the scene but who’s complaining? In the future, a technique called table-blending will be added to the toy box for precision pairings.
A wine-paired Chinese Dinner was held by Yats Wine Cellars in Summer Palace of Edsa Shangrila Hotel in Ortigas Manila Philippines. This dinner comprises of a good mix of heavier recipes and some other that are designed to bring out the natural flavors of the key ingredients. For details on the wine and food pairing, please visit www.YatsWineCellars.com and click on wine event, or inquire through email Event@Yats-International.com mentioning Wine-paired Chinese Dinner.
For more information, please visit www.YatsRestaurant.com or email Wine@Yats-International.com.