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Wine and moon cake pairings

Moon cakes are traditional treats eaten at the time of the mid-autumn or moon festival. The festival is the official harvest festival in China and Vietnam and is held on the 15th day of the eight month in the Chinese and Vietnamese calendars, during a full moon.

It traditionally falls in either September or October and this year is taking place on Tuesday 8 September.

It is celebrated by lighting lanterns and eating moon cakes and a wide variety of other dishes too.

Christie’s has already paired a variety of savoury dishes with fine wines, now the buying team from Wine Etc has paired wines with the wide variety of moon cake flavours there are to be had as well.

Mathieu Pouchan, chief sommelier for the group, explained: “Wine and desserts have been on the rise in the last few months, so we would just like to offer our two cents on how to match desserts with wine as many customers have specially requested for a guide on how to balance the flavours to gain the best result.”

On the following pages is the guide to the best wines to have with your favourite moon cake.

Lotus seed paste – young Barsac

The traditional moon cake flavour and one that needs a wine with sweetness but not too much as it needs to complement the flavours and textures of the lotus seed.

Wine Etc. choice: Les Cypres de Climens 2007 (HK$419)

“This wine has an impressive nose of dried fruits, honey, figs, caramel. With a hint of sweetness together with wonderful ripe fruit aromas and good acidity as well as freshness, this wine has great balance overall with good length.”

Egg custard – older Sauternes

A sweeter moon cake so one that can handle a fuller bodied sticky – but one that still has a lightness of touch

Wine Etc. choice: Guiraud 2001 (HK$625)

“With a bouquet of marmalade scents, lanolin, brown sugar and peach that blossom in the glass, the palate is well-balanced with citrus-fresh apricot and orange zest on the entry. It is precise and vigorous with dried mango emerging toward the tightly wound finish. The creamy texture of this wine paired with tropical fruit flavours makes it the perfect match for this type of moon cake.”

Sweet bean paste – old Pacherenc du Vic Bilh

An unusual flavour demands an unusual wine and sweet wines from this tucked-away corner of South-West France fit the bill perfectly.

Wine Etc. choice: Bouscasse Frimaire 1996 (HK$785)

“Made from 100% Petit Manseng and aged in new oak barrels for 16 months, this wine develops gorgeous sweet bean and white truffle flavours as well as autumn fruit flavours such as quince, apricot and lychee after 12-15 years of aging. It matches beautifully with sweet bean paste mooncakes.”

Five kernel – colheita tawny Port

A moon cake for the health freaks, packed full of nuts and seeds. Walnuts are a staple of Western Christmases and to go with it – Port of course and this moon cake is no exception.

Wine Etc. choice: Quinta do Noval Colheita Tawny 1997 (HK$505)

“This amazing, rare, wine from Noval has spicy nose with the taste of sweet dates and a hint of walnuts that mix well with the nuts and seeds of this mooncake. It has a mild body and is concentrated with lots of fruit, and tastes similar to a young vintage Port with a long, spicy finish.”

Snow skin – demi-sec Champagne

A new addition to the moon cake family of flavours (joining everything from chicken floss and abalone to peanut), snow skin moon cakes have less fat than the traditional lotus seed or custard varieties and are served frozen as well.

Wine Etc. choice: Pol Roger Rich NV (HK$459)

“Mid-Autumn festival is incomplete without a bottle of Champagne to celebrate with friends and family. A recent Hong Kong favourite has been the snow skin mooncakes, and these various flavours and textures pair well with the nose of fresh dough, apple, pear and citrus with similar mild flavours on the palate.”

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