Mooncakes and the Chinese Language of Wine

Last month I was travelling in Asia with a group of winemakers participating in the International Wine Challenge Asian Trade Tastings, and everywhere talk was of the upcoming Mooncake or Mid-Autumn Festival. This is a popular Chinese lunar harvest festival, held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, (this year falling on Sep. 12th in our calendar) and close to the autumnal equinox.

For the Mooncake Festival, everyone gives and eats Mooncakes, a sweet pastry made from lotus seed paste. As can be expected during the wine tastings, the topic often turned to ‘which wine to pair with Mooncakes?’ Our suggestion, as can be seen below, falls on Chaminé and Cortes de Cima.

Wine and Mooncakes pairing

For a Chinese wine drinker, using Western terms like ‘blackcurrant’ may be meaningless. In the language of wine, both tasting notes and food pairing ideas need to be linked to Asia’s owns flavors and cuisine. “The extraordinary wide array of flavors to be found in Asian cuisine provides a rich local vocabulary to describe wine’s range of flavors and textures.”  - Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

We asked a HongKong based wine educator the Independent Wine Centre to elaborate CHINESE TASTING NOTES and CHINESE FOOD MATCHING suggestions based on some of our wines. Here they are!-

Chaminé Tinto

CHINESE TASTING NOTES : Intense fragrance of dried prunes and preserved plums.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Mongolian barbecue, Cantonese style roast meat. Mooncake.

Chaminé Branco

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: This wine is more fragrant than Chinese pear. It is fresh and lively.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Steamed fresh seafood, Salt and pepper stir fried dish in Southern China

Cortes de Cima

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: Its long aftertaste is reminiscent of roast sesame and the bitter sweetness of ginseng.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH:Braised good quality abalone, Braised sea cucumber with shrimp roe. Mooncake

Syrah

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: Westerners will describe the aroma as mineral but in the food culture of Chinese, this 2007 Syrah reminds us of one of our beloved food – dried seafood, especially dried scallops.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Peking duck, river fish cooked in Northern China style

Touriga Nacional

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: It is not easy to describe this wine in a few words but it reminds us of the rich and colourful smells of a Shanghai candy store.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Stew beef brisket in clay pot, Preserved meat with rice, Fried glutinous rice

Incógnito

CHINESE TASTING NOTES: The fruit aroma is intense, with a strong fried pancake flavour, and a hint of sweet lotus taste.

CHINESE FOOD MATCH: Cantonese style clay pot dishes, cheese platter shared with a few friends.

Wine paired with Chili Crab in Hong Kong

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