Gewürztraminer "goes with all chinese food" but it is one of the strongest profiles in the wine world, so not always!. Riesling works well, we know, but what about other wines to diversify options?
3 levels of pairing:
1. complementary (easier with european food because the flavor spectrum is narrower)
2. an accompaniment rather than an enhancement (*below)
3. contrast (like sweet with spicy chilis. tannins bring out more firey flavor)
*Taiwanese beef noodles or Peking duck - does wine make them more tasty? as compared to steak and potatoes .... the wine is good alongside it but it already has so many complex flavors on its own
Here's a typical Chinese menu: tofu; napa cabbage, abalone, sea cucumber, jellyfish, seaweed; tripe; chicken feet - different ingredients that all have umami. they have TEXTURE.
Umami is involved in sauces and broths, plus appreciation for textural components
*with asian foods you really have to take into consideration the condiments. palate sensation is affected. black bean sauce with noodles - with chicken or vegetables, the main flavor component is still the sauce.
Pickled veggies: they have a sharp vinegar note, so go moderate on the pickles when pairing with wine; sparkling wine is the savior for anything pickled. The finer the wine and more delicate the flavor the more you should back off of the pickles. "like a dance--don't have 2 dance partners who are leading" Find good accompaniments that will FOLLOW the lead of the sharpness--highest acid wine style you can find, it also cleanses the palate
With strong flavors, find a wine that doesn't try to be dominant (not too high alc or oak, fruity or young pn, soft pgr)
bbq meats without the strong flavors can pair with more mature, fine wines
Let's talk about salt--or lack thereof:
Asians use fish sauce, oyster, hoisin, soy--fermented condiments, not salt; they have umami that salt that doesn't have, plus depth and texture that is not added by salt alone
A very dry Pinot Blanc or Volnay style Pinot Noir--great for sashimi because it's about texture rather than about the fish.
Try this with salt and try with soy sauce.
Soy sauce will go much better with the Pinot Noir because it has more layers of texture than salt; if you use just salt it's better with the Pinot Blanc.
Think of wines that are all about the texture, for a fairly high umami content
Wines with longer lees contact will always have more umami content, so more barrel aging gives a way to bridge asian flavors.
(Spatburgunder--one of the most versatile red wines in the world)
If you have 12 courses and only 2 wines:
1 neutral white, 1 Pinot Noir. both from the beginning: Asian meals typically start with duck, goose, etc. Go from red to white. Common to go from heavy full strong--then to fish--all over the place. rhythm of the asian banquet is undulating volumes, not linear. (european is linear) asian goes in circles. diversity and contrast are better than something simple.
WINE COMPONENTS AND FOOD
a pairing guide:
*sweetness. late harvest etc: overwhelmes delicate dishes or umami richness. choose dessert or fatty dishes,
medium-sweet or off-dry wines with salty or spicy;
sweet wine with foie; moderately sweet is a good foil for hot or salty
*acidity: champagne, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Italian whites, neutral Italian red, red or white Burgundy: crisp acid allows for versatility and balance with rich creamy, fatty, or salty; adds refreshment and cuts heat in spicy food while holding up well to sour/sharp notes
deep or stir fried foods work with sour ingredients because acid cuts through oil
*tannin/oak: Rioja, California Chardonnay, young Bordeaux or Barolo: complement red meat, fatty, grilled, rich stews.
grilled/bbq meat. With rich food. avoid spice. tannins work with protein and fat
*alcohol/body: Australian Shiraz, Amarone, Chateauneuf du Pape: overwhelm delicate flavor, exaggerate heat. not very versatile. heavy foods, rich with full flavor stand up.
maturity: 97 or older: highly compatible with the umami-rich. Refined, delicate dishes are best; avoid overly spicy or flavorful which overwhelm delicate nuances in mature wines. they have heightened umami flavors from bottle aging
*salty: soy, oyster sauce, shrimp/bean paste. accentuates tannins. soft tannins, crisp acid, and vibrant fruit are the answers.
- Emily Garrison, Shiraz Fine Wine & Gourmet