The best wines to pair with Chinese food

(Last Updated On: 08/19/2010)
chinese food and wine pairing

Photo borrowed from ExpressNightOut.com

I’m a bit of a Chinese food junkie. I read the reports about how “fattening” it is but simply can’t help myself. All that MSG, oil and salty goodness satisfies a craving, especially when the previous night’s exploits have left their mark.

One challenge with this addiction has been pairing wines with my favorite, umumi-rich stir fries. Just ’cause it comes from a white cardboard box doesn’t mean I can’t transform this extreme-flavored weeknight fix into a “meal” with the right bottle of chilled white wine (FYI: big red wine drinkers won’t find solace here, as Chinese food — even the beef and pork — prefers mostly fragrant white wines and a few lighter reds). A few suggestions with different dishes you’d find at your favorite take-out or “authentic” Chinese restaurant. (Read the basics of how to pair food and wine)

Chinese dishes that pair with Rieslings with a 2-4 sweetness level (out of 10 on my scale)
Szechuan Chicken (or Shrimp, Vegetables, etc.)
Kung Pao Chicken
Human Pork
Chicken or Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
Fish in Spicy XO Sauce
Curry Chicken (spicy)
Sweet and Sour Chicken or Shrimp
General Tso’s Chicken or Shrimp

Choose Rieslings like:
Pacific Rim Riesling

Chinese dishes that pair with French Beaujolais
Beef in Oyster Sauce
Beef with Broccoli
Beef with Vegetables
Moo Shu Pork

Recommended Beaujolais:
Domaine Chignard Fleurie

Chinese dishes that pair with Sparkling Shiraz
Anything in black bean sauce

Recommended wine:
Shooting Star Black Bubbles

Chinese dishes that pair with Dry Sparkling Wine
Beef Szechuan
Crispy Duck

Recommended wines:
Several affordable sparkling wines

Chinese dishes that pair with Grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Vegetable, Shrimp or Chicken Lo Mein
Fried Rice (Shrimp, Chicken, Vegetable)

Recommended wine:
Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc

Chinese dishes that pair with Dry Riesling (sweetness level of 1-2 on my scale)
Moo Goo Gai Pan
Chicken or Shrimp with Vegetables

Try a wine like: Helfrich Riesling

Chinese dishes that pair with Italian Prosecco with a slight hint of sweetness (2 on the sweetness scale)
Dim Sum Dumplings
Salt and Pepper Calamari
Crispy Duck

A few Prosecco bargains

Chinese dishes that pair with Italian Lambrusco
Sesame Beef or Chicken
Crispy Beef
Beef in Garlic Sauce
Szechuan Beef

This wine is a smooth, sweeter, slight fizzy red wine from Italy. Ask for it by name.

Chinese dishes that pair with Gewurztraminer
Curry Chicken (spicy)
Egg Foo Yung
Sweet and Sour Chicken or Shrimp
Kung Pao Chicken

Choose wines like:
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Gewurztraminer

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