Chinese Food & Wine Pairings

Chinese food is perhaps one of the trickiest types of cuisine to pair with wine, but there are a few tried-and-true options that won’t disappoint. Chinese food covers the entire spectrum of flavors, from sweet and sour chicken to the slightly spicy General Tso’s chicken all the way to spicy Hunan beef with lots of dried chilis.

Since Chinese food is meant for sharing, there’s a very good chance you may have all of those flavors on your plate at the same time, which can greatly impact the wine in your glass. My top choice for versatility is an off-dry Riesling. The mouthwatering acidity is perfect with all the oil used in Chinese cooking and the lower alcohol in Riesling won’t exacerbate the spice in those hot dishes. In fact, it will provide a nice cooling agent for your palate.  A Gewurtztraminer can also work quite well with mild spices. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – Riesling and beef? Yes, it can work quite well together, because we are taking all of the other flavors into considerations with this pairing.

A dry to off-dry rosé comes in next on my list for Chinese food pairings. The vibrant fruit flavors and refreshing acidity are a great bridge wine that works quite well with a myriad of flavors and foods. It has kind of a laid-back personality and won’t compete for top billing against your meal. Try the Von Buhl Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) Rosé (SRP: $18) out of Germany. Von Buhl also makes an excellent Sekt (sparkling Riesling), which brings me to my next choice – sparkling wine.

A great sparkling wine with a touch of residual sugar like a German Sekt or Vouvray Demi-Sec from the Loire Valley of France are simply perfect. The saltiness in the cuisine brings out the fruit notes in the wine and the bubbles act as an intermezzo of sorts, gently cleansing your palate in between bites.

Recommended Producers (Everyday Rieslings)

High-Def Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $12)
Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, Germany (SRP: $13)
Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (SRP: $14)

Hot Dog & Sauvignon Blanc

Believe it or not, there is a wine pairing for hot dogs! Sauvignon Blanc works quite well with this summer time staple, especially the “Chicago Style” dog with the pickle, tomatoes, relish and celery salt. Sauvignon Blancs have abundant citrus notes of grapefruit with lemon and lime, lots of fresh cut grassy aromas and vibrant acidity that make it a perfect companion with the veggies on the hot dog. Plus, the acidity provides the perfect balance to cut through the fattiness of the meat. Stick with the bolder styles coming out of New Zealand or Chile. This monster dog can handle the zesty citrus and herbal qualities from this style of Sauvignon Blanc. Some of the best values can be found out of Chile.

Recommended Producers



Pepperoni Pizza & Primitivo

Pizza and wine were made for each other. While Barbera is generally my go-to pizza wine, a hearty pepperoni and meat lover’s pizza can handle a bigger, bolder wine with more tannins to stand up to the fatty meat.

If you’ve never tried a Primitivo, I highly recommend it! It has a similar DNA to the Zinfandel grape, in fact they are both clones of the Crljenak grape out of Croatia. Primitivo is indigenous to southern Italy and produces full-bodied reds with notes of plum, mixed berry preserves, sweet spice, pepper and mocha. These wines work beautifully with burgers, steaks and decadent pizzas.

Recommended Producers 



Cheese Pizza & Barbera

There’s nothing better than curling up on the couch on a rainy night with a delicious pizza and great bottle of wine.  There are so many variations of pizza, so you really need to base your wine pairing on the toppings and sauce.

When it comes to traditional cheese, margherita and even meat lover’s pizza, Barbera is a great, approachable and very versatile Italian red. It’s one of my go-to pizza wines. In fact, I always keep a few bottles in the house for take-out night.

Barbera is a grape varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy. It tends to have vibrant fruit characteristics with high acidity and mellow tannins.  This is a versatile wine that generally drinks best when young and pairs beautifully with an array of menu items from eggplant parmesan to pizza to pasta carbonara! Barbera also tends to be one of the best values at your local Italian eatery. Bon Appetite!

Recommended Producers 

Damilano Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $16)
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
La Spinetta Ca di Pian Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $22)