“The world is such a small place!” This is a phrase I hear and use all the time. So often at an unexpected time and place we will meet someone who knows someone we know. And with communication becoming so easy via all the social networks, we manage to stay in contact regardless of where we are in the world.
Up until a few years ago, for most of us anyway, Asia was not part of our global village. What we knew about the foreign culture and traditions of China and its neighbours in the East, were mostly Westernised into palate-friendly take-aways and fun themes for parties.
In recent years, however, that has changed a lot and with the Western world struggling economically, all eyes turned to Asia and especially China with its booming economy, massive population and enthralling culture. In the wine trade especially, China has become both a market and producer of note and nowadays we are much more informed about Chinese culture.
Today is the start of the Chinese New Year, the most important festival in China. This special time on the Chinese calendar is celebrated with family and friends, food and gifts. Wine gifts are very popular during Chinese Festivals and accounts for about 60% of annual wine sales. As the most important festival, the Chinese New Year is of course very important for anyone who exports wine to China.
And with China being on top of our minds, I am sure many Westerners will have some kind of Chinese celebration over the weekend – even if it is only going to a Chinese restaurant. So what wine to order with your Chinese?
In my opinion Chinese food in China tastes quite different to Chinese food in the West. And as most people I know will not be celebrating the weekend in China, let’s have a look at wine matches with Chinese food as we know it in the West.
Food and wine matcher par excellence, Fiona Beckett has shared 6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese new year feast which I think can work as a great guideline, although I would love to see a few South African wines in there.
I think when made in a classic and understated style, the freshness and fruit of a South African red wine works very well with heavier and meaty Chinese dishes, while Chenin Blanc or interesting Chenin Blanc blends such as a Chenin Blanc/Grenache Blanc can be a versatile white alternative (although I know that the complex character of our organically grown 2013 La Motte Pierneef Sauvignon Blanc is exceptional with spicy Chinese and Tai!)
What I would definitely suggest for the weekend – especially if you are in the Cape Town area where scorching weather is forecasted – is to join more than 19% of the world’s population and go with Fiona’s suggestion of Sparkling Wine and dim sum. (Click here for Cape Town Magazine’s list of the best Chinese restaurants in Cape Town)
2014 is also the Chinese year of the Horse and without knowing too much about it, it seems that the year promises to have a lot of energy and bring prosperity. I can work with that!
Happy Chinese New Year 新年快乐！