India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Autochtona 2012: Opportunity to Taste Italian Native Wines

Posted: Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:06

Food and Wine Pairing: Matching Wine with Chinese Sauce

July 31 : With Chinese food becoming increasing popular around the world it has become interesting and important to look at various food and wine pairings with sauces taking a center stage, writes Debra Meiburg MW, who held a Masterclass at the Vinexpo Academy to introduce an experimental approach to pairing based on sauces and cautions against applying the same set of rules as in Western cuisine

Click For Large ViewIt’s obvious even to those whose sole exposure to Chinese cuisine is the occasional take out dim-sum, that European and Chinese attitudes to the dining table are as different as table salt and soy sauce; aesthetically completely dissimilar but ultimately there for the same reason.

In pairing wine with Chinese food -- something every winemaker from Champagne to Central Otago seems keen to do these days – it’s important that we do not just assume that the same rules of pairing apply.

As part of this year’s Vinexpo Academy, we held a master class intended to introduce an experimental approach to pairing different from the one typically employed for European cuisines. According to European matching principles (to generalize the practices of an entire continent – something we hate when people do it to ours – but we need some generalizations to get by!) wine is usually matched to the protein of the dish.

Chinese cuisine, which tends to be more sauce-driven, calls for a sauce-based pairing system. It may be steamed fish, but if it’s drowned in chopped scallions, fried shallots and soy sauce, you don’t necessarily want a light white wine to go with it.

In general, we’re not big believers in courses that demonstrate how well a specific wine matches a specific dish – is it likely you’ll ever have this exact dish again, or this wine? Giving people the tools to determine how elements combine to produce flavor and how those components react with wine seems more practical.

To support this idea, we decided to work exclusively with sauces. In order to avoid demolishing our palates after the first swig of soy, we also had plain rice, steamed chicken and steamed shrimp, which are fairly typical components of a Cantonese meal and also contribute texture, a key factor in pairing no matter where the dish comes from.

We chose sixteen sauces and garnishes to represent Chinese, particularly the Cantonese cuisine. These included light and dark soy, red and black vinegar, shrimp paste, oyster sauce, and other Chinese favorites that occasionally made those students who were not yet lovers of the cuisine, squirm. The course outlined the production methods and chemical makeup of these ingredients to help predict how they would interact with various wine styles.

On the other side of the ring, we had six wines chosen together with the Vinexpo team. Vinexpo being a French fair, our only new world selection was a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Italy didn’t even get a single wine in the lineup.

And thus, we braced our tongues, popped open our sauce containers and got  tasting to see what held true in practice. With 96 possible combinations, it was a long slog. Some combos were an obvious “yuck” – red Bordeaux with red chili, for example, was one moment in Chinese culture where red with red did not equal double happiness.

Click For Large ViewUnsurprisingly, white had a much easier time of it, with Riesling and Gewürztraminer taking the lead. However, the Gewürz in particular was less versatile than expected, totally overwhelming any sauce that might conceivably be described as subtle. The Savvy made a surprisingly appealing match with plum sauce, bringing out something high-toned, and ethereal in both; good news since this sauce is used to douse roast or barbecued fowl of all feathers, plus the ever-popular spring rolls and fried dumplings.

Ultimately, we’re not hoping to write a new rule book from this. The aim of the project was more about giving Chinese drinkers the comfort levels required to experiment; something akin to the one about teaching a man to fish vs. giving him a fish.

“Give a country a pairing menu and it’ll drink wine for a day, teach a country to make its own pairing choices and it’ll drink wine forever.”

Debra Meiburg MW

A resident of Hong Kong for nearly 25 years, Debra Meiburg MW is a celebrated wine journalist, TV personality, wine educator and in-demand speaker who holds the top honour in the wine world – Master of Wine. 

Along with producing the Guide to the Hong Kong Wine Trade, Debra is presenter in the wine television series Taste the Wine, delivers one-minute video wine tips called Grape Moments via China’s metro-city taxis and has developed a chic suite of “edutainment tools" for wine students and aficionados.  In 2011, she was one of “seven people to watch” in Decanter’s Power List and recently was recipient of the highly-regarded 2012 Vinitaly International Award.



Makoto Says:

Congratulations on the unveiling of your new and imveoprd web site! It is very easy to navigate and contains lots of great information. I look forward to following the blog posts on different wines since I enjoy good wines not necessarily expensive wines. I also look forward to following your different tastings schedules, in order to stop in the WineSeller to determine what my next purchases will be, as I have many times before. Cheers! Keep up the great work on the new site!

Posted @ August 11, 2012 10:48


Remie Says:

Basic sauce elements are just the beginning to a world of sauces. Blending elements in varying portions changes profoundly its character. Thus, follows the pairing wine. Again, I strongly feel that the idea of matching is inherently different between an European & Asian palate. No matter how long the European is in Asia. Remie

Posted @ August 03, 2012 12:10


Martin Boulton Says:

I have often drank German Riesling Halbtrocken with Chinese food and it normally works with the sweeter elements of the meal, but is not always successful. I have found a crisp, slightly off-dry Chilean Rosé Riserva more versatile with Chinese cuisine.

Posted @ August 01, 2012 17:58


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet