PAIRING WINE WITH ASIAN FOOD
How to Pair Wine with Asian Cuisine
by Denny Wang
Yats Wine Cellars
Stung by nasty collisions between wine and food when wine lovers first attempted to pair western wine with Asian food, many wine and food lovers quickly retreated to certain safety zones. This gave rise to safe recommendations for wines to drink with Japanese and Chinese cuisines. These recommendations are generally fruit white wines such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Moscato. While those pairings are technically sound on paper, they do not solve the real problem. Wine lovers want to drink interesting wine with their meals. Many wine lovers are not content until they have polished off a nice bottle of Claret or Burgundy. What are these wine lovers to drink now if they happen to crave for a comforting Sukiyaki, Ramen, Roasted Duck or Steamed Coral Trout?
There are many factors that form a wall which keeps Asian food from acting friendly to wine. This is not unique to Asian cuisine. There are wine-killers in western cuisines also. Artichokes, asparagus and pickles come quickly to mind. For Asian fares most wine lovers dread the heat and spice but those are not the biggest problem. The real wine-killer in most Asian cuisines is umami – the fifth taste discovered by Japan’s Dr. Kikunae Ikeda not so long ago – a word that translates roughly into “delicious essence”. But that’s as far as I will go to try and define umami. Everyone in Asia is more than well-versed on the savory qualities of food rich in umami, as well as umami’s uncanny ability to amplify taste components in food.
As it turns out, amplification is not restricted to food. Not all that surprising really, Umami also intensifies flavor components in wine. And here lies the real problem umami presents to wine lovers. Umami amplifies sweetness and tannic astringencies in wine while masking out acidity and to some extent shield the heat of alcohol, an effect reminiscent of salt taken with alcoholic cocktails.
This understanding went a long way to bash the myth that only certain white wines can be paired successfully with savory Asian dishes. No wonder young (tannic) red wines produced in warmer new-world regions featuring generous bushels of sweet ripe fruit flavors don’t work as many discovered by accident. Crisp white wine which is free of tannins, obtrusive fruit flavors but well supported by fresh acidity seems to fare better. But red wines can perform that duty just as well. By avoiding big, bold, heavily structured, overly extracted red wines and instead opt for those that emphasize elegance and restraint, red wines can do even better than whites with Asian food. Wines like Barbaresco and Chianti both medium in all aspects do well. Other examples are wines made from Pinot Noir such as a Burgundy.
But this still doesn’t solve all the problems. Wine connoisseurs prefer wines of substance, often with a good firm backbone formed by ripe tannins. To allow them to enjoy great wines with what I trust will be equally great dishes of Asian food, one more elements of wine have to be brought into the game table. That element is age. Wine connoisseurs have long reported with great enthusiasm how certain vintage French wines went down so well with difficult savory dishes such as Peking duck and many kinds of Yakiniku. Although classic wines are usually prohibitively tannic in youth, they mellow down after 5 to 10 years and continue to exude difficult-to-describe flavors and aromas that are remarkably similar to umami. Studies have recently confirmed that as (fine) wine ages, they pick up umami qualities. This applies not only to reds but also white wines too. No wonder older and more matured wines have always done better than younger versions in a meal of savory Asian food.
In an article titled Umami – Taste Receptor, Tactile Sensation and Flavor Intensifier, Matthew Citriglia reported that umami is more abundant in old-world wines than their new-world counterparts. He also detected that umami in wine increases with age. For example, Burgundy red wines exhibit more umami qualities by the age of 10. This applies even to white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre past 5 years old and Burgundy whites (Chardonnay) reaching the age of 10.
My own experience pairing older vintage wines, some as old as 40 or 50 years old, seem to very much concur with those findings. For example, I have paired a 1978 Charmes-Chambertin of Mommessin with Sukiyaki and that went down swimmingly. A 1999 Meursault Chateau De Guettes of Francois Parent paired seamlessly with a variety of Sashimi and Sushi. Here is one not for the faint-hearted: a 1973 Châteauneuf du Pape from Thorin-Chambert, against all odds, danced an elegant tango with none other than Peking Duck.
Before I draw my final conclusions on the subject of choosing a good wine to pair up with Asian food, there is one more thing that is perhaps not discussed quite as thoroughly as it should, and that is the matter of weight. Matching weight of wine and food is every bit as important as matching flavors. A lesser white wine, for example, might not have matched up nearly as well with Sashimi and Sushi as the 1999 Meursault which was smooth and yet quite full-bodied.
The logical conclusion to be drawn from this discussion on pairing wine with Asian food seems to be that it really isn’t just what kind of wine to select but also what age. Even the characteristics of the growing season of a particular vintage can come very much into play. Wines from a hot hear like 2003, now pushing 10 years old, do not taste the same way as a 2004 or a 2002. If older vintages are not at your disposal and you have to avoid unyielding young wines, then choosing a wine from a so-called lesser vintage might work to your advantage.
I hope that this helps a little bit to demystify the pairing of fine wine with Asian cuisine and in doing so, encourages wine lovers to boldly try great vintage wines with time-proven Asian food.
Yats Wine Cellars
is known among Asian wine lovers as a good source for well-priced vintage wines from all the major wine regions of the world. What makes shopping at Yats a lot of fun is the fact that we offer not only the familiar labels and expensive trophy wines but also lesser known but really interesting vintage wines of excellent value sought after by connoisseurs and beginners alike.
In addition to wines from recent stellar vintages, this wine importer in the Philippines offers a very large selection of 20- to 40-year-old matured bottles that are sought after by connoisseurs and seasoned wine drinkers in Asia. Some of these wines are available through boutique wine shops in Ortigas and Fort Global City in Manila. Others can be ordered from their wine shops in Manila and Pampanga or the main sales office in Ortigas for delivery within Metro Manila or shipped to other parts of the Philippines.
Yats Wine Cellars is a wine distributor in the Philippines that caters to the growing population of discerning wine lovers. Wine shoppers looking for good wine shops where they can buy wine in Manila, Pampanga, Cebu or other major cities in Philippines are pleased to find a large selection of vintage wines and lesser-known labels and appellations also. That is a wine story of the Philippines that wine lovers in Manila and Pampanga talk about.
The vintage wines of Yats Wine Cellars
are also purchased as gifts. One popular birthday gift idea is a “birth year wine”, a wine with a vintage year same as the year of birth of the recipient. Yats Wine Cellars is one of the few wine shops in Manila and Pampanga that carries wines dating back 100 years and offers advice on what types of wines from what regions are best for each year in the past. Special vintage cards covering older vintages are also available.
Yats Wine Cellars is one of the wine suppliers that devote a great deal of attention and effort to wine education aimed at enabling wine lovers to enhance their knowledge of wine as well as to develop a discerning palate for fine wines. To that end this leading wine supplier in Philippines frequently hold public wine events that are not sponsored by wine producers and not intended to promote a certain brand.
Yats Wine Cellars
Manila Sales Office
3003C East Tower, Phil Stock Exchange Center,
Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig,
Metro Manila, Philippines 1605
Tel: (632) 637-5019 0917-520-4393 0926-686-5955
Ask for Rea, Gerlyn or Chay
Wine Shop, Cellars and Warehouse in Pampanga
Clark Wine Center
Bldg 6460 Clark Observatory Building
Manuel A. Roxas Highway corner A Bonifacio Ave,
Clark Field, Clark Air Base,
Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines 2023
Tel: 0917-826-8790 (045) 599-5600 0922-870-5173
Ask for Kristine or Daniel
FACEBOOK: The Facebook account of Yats Wine Cellars, called Yats.Wine is a media with which the professionals at Yats as well as fellow wine professionals in the trade throughout the world will share with our friends and wine hobbyists in the Philippines knowledge, findings, experiences, tasting notes, insights and opinions about wine, food-wine pairing and news about wine.
Yats Wine Cellars started opening small boutique-sized convenience wine shops in major locations of Manila. Through these wine outlets in Manila, Yats Wine Cellars hope to bring interesting selections of fine vintage wines to wine lovers in Manila at attractive prices.
Although there are plenty of good restaurants in Manila as well as a growing number of gastro pubs mostly in the Fort Bonifacio Global city and Makati areas, food and wine lovers travel out of town north of Manila to wine and dine in Clark Air Base which is now called Clark Freeport Zone of Pampanga.
Ranked as the top restaurant in Pampanga, Yats Restaurant and Wine Lounge not only offers good food, excellent wine selection and attentive service, it is also one of the restaurants in Pampanga that is great for group dinners, business entertaining and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries also. Semi-private and private rooms are available for groups of 5 to 50 here in this fine dining restaurant in Clark.
Yats Restaurant is one of the restaurants in Clark Air Base that is well known to residents of Angeles City, Subic, Manila, Tarlac and Clark Philippines as a good place to eat in Pampanga. Recently, event organizers and corporate planning departments have discovered that this famous restaurant in Clark Pampanga is also a very good venue for group dinners and corporate functions, not to mention parties and celebrations for other special occasions outside of Manila in North Luzon.
Private dinners can be accommodated in this famous restaurant located in Mimosa, at the heart of Pampanga Clark Freeport. Private rooms suitable for 4 to 24 can be reserved in advance at this impressive restaurant in Pampanga for company and personal functions and events in Clark. This fine dining restaurant in Pampanga is a very popular event venue for small wedding receptions, social events, company board meetings and annual parties. Even companies from Manila travel to Pampanga to hold their functions and events in this well known fine dining restaurant in Pampanga.
Besides good and impressive restaurants to wine and dine near Manila, Subic or in Angeles City Pampanga, Clark Philippines, those requiring assistance for hotel and resort bookings in Clark, Pampanga, Philippines may log on to http://www.HotelClarkPhilippines.com for more information and reservations.
Clark Pampanga is not only frequently visited for its good restaurants and fine dining establishments, it is also a highly recommended wedding destination especially for couples looking for outdoor garden reception venues and beach weddings. For assistance and information on wedding venues and how to organize a wedding reception, log on to http://www.PhilippinesWeddingVenue.com
Those visitors who plan to relax and unwind in Angeles City, Subic, Pampanga, Clark Philippines might make an effort to book a room at the famous beach and lake resort Clearwater Resort and Country Club. This famous hotel in Clark Pampanga is frequently visited by families with children looking for a good place in Clark to see, a good holiday destination for the family to relax and unwind in the beautiful outdoor facilities. For more information, log on to www.ClearwaterPhilippines.com
For information about working, living, doing business or finding a job in the Philippines, log on to http://www.yilp.com
Have a safe and pleasant trip to Clark Philippines.
You are welcome to post your comments and questions about any topic related to wine on http://www.YatsWineCellars.com or email Wine@Yats-International.com with your comments, suggestions, questions, purchases or inquiries on wine and wine-related topics. Don’t forget to register yourself on our mailing list to be informed of the dates and venues of the Yats Wine Experience public wine tasting events.