Top Chinese New Year wine picks
As the world gears up for the Year of the Monkey, we’ve rounded up some of the best wine recommendations for the Chinese New Year feast.
From endless trips to various family members’ houses for gigantic feasts to handing out colourful lai see packets stuffed with $100 notes to everyone from your nieces to the doorman in your building, no other festival is quite as anticipated in the Chinese calendar as Chinese New Year.
Unashamed eating and drinking continues for over a week across Asia but for those of us who like hearty swills of wine with their suckling pig, Chinese mud carp or indeed, Good Fortune fruit then finding a suitable pairing can be tricky.
We’ve tracked down several of Asia’s fine wine bods to see what they’ll be having this Chinese New Year which starts on Monday, 8 February.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Cru World Wine, Hong Kong – Toro Albala, Amontillado Seleccion 1951
Sabrina Hosford, general manager enthuses over this 1951 Amontillado: “The richness and savoury delight of Chinese New Year cuisine is a perfect time for us to drink fortified wines.
“This is distinctively sweet and coupled with rich nuances of toasted hazelnuts, almonds and mushrooms. The palate is warm, concentrated, yet very dry. You are left with lingering flavours of mocha, toasted almonds and an oily texture. The beauty of this wine is that there is not a time limit and in fact, it will even improve with age in an opened bottle.
“This fabulous bottle of Amontillado would be amazing with Shanghainese spare ribs, BBQ pork, 1,000 year-old-eggs and even as a digestif after the long family holiday meal. Kung Hei Fat Choy!”
Dragon Phoenix Fine Wine Consulting, Beijing – 2015 Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes, Salta, Argentina
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong – 2007 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Paganelli
Marco Leung, retail manager: “Personally I love Brunello and I believe this is one of the best value wines not just in Tuscany but in the world of wine! Il Poggione crafted a show-stopping wine from its signature single vineyard, “I Paganelli”, where the vine age is more than 50 years old.
With a pungent bouquet of red and black cherry, a floral note and classic Brunello earthiness at the back, its fine and balanced palate is accompanied by a racy acidity and sweet tannins. This wine goes perfectly with some of the most classic Chinese dishes, such as suckling pig, roast goose, Peking duck, and much more. I am going to open a bottle during the festive Chinese New Year season while I enjoy a sumptuous feast with my friends and family.”
ASC Fine Wines, Shanghai – Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage 2010
Matthew Gong, media manager: “Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port is elegant and fruity and makes an excellent match for classic Chinese New Year pudding such Ba Bao Fan – glutinous rice pudding with red bean paste, Shanghai-style Tang Cu Pai Gu – sweet and sour spare ribs and Mi Zhi Huo Fang – braised ham in honey sauce.
Shanghainese food tends to use a lot of sugar and soy sauce, so the sugar level and full-body of the Port can balance very well with the meat and the soy sauce.”
Vinum Fine Wine, Singapore – 2013 Domaine Follin Arbelet, Aloxe Corton
Justerini & Brooks, Hong Kong – Gevrey Chambertin, Clos St Jacques, 1er Cru, Domaine Bruno Clair 2009
Cellina Chan, head of sales: “Gevrey Chambertin, Clos Saint-Jacques is considered to be the most prestigious of the 1er cru of Gevrey-Chambertin. The wine has great balance and Le Clos Saint-Jacques always produces a fine, complex wine to keep.
“It is a perfect wine for Chinese New Year to share with close friend and relatives.”
Sarment Fine Wine, Singapore – Champagne Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne
Julien Drevon, head sommelier: “The chalky soils give the wine a unique sense of place and a minerality that creates a vibrant, delicate style of Champagne, whilst the winery’s use of Argonne oak lends a unique sophistication and character to each bottle of Henri Giraud Champagne.
“We also have our very own personalised Sarment engraved MV07 bottle – a superstar addition to wine to any celebratory dinner!”
Cheers, Beijing – Happy Fish Riesling
Claudia Masueger, CEO: “A nice glass of wine at the dining table with all the beloved ones gathering together during the festive season is the happiest moment in life.
“This fresh Riesling from Germany shows sensual aromas of ripe apples, lemon and dried apricots. An awesome wine, its fits perfectly with Chinese food!”
Berry Bros & Rudd, Singapore – 2005 Champagne Thiénot, Cuvée Stanislas Blanc de Blancs
Reiwern Foo, education and marketing consultant: “With a sumptuous, luminous, golden yellow appearance, a dried tobacco, wheat and ripe fruit bouquet and delicious honey, dried apricot on the palate, this will pair beautifully with Yu Sheng, raw fish salad.
“This is the quintessential dish used for the ‘prosperity toss’ commonly referred to as ‘lo hei’, made up of raw fish or seafood strips complemented by vegetables, peanut crumbs, plum sauce and other contemporary twists.”