Chinese New Year is a fantastic excuse to heat the wok, twist the corkscrew and do one of the things I love best. Cook food and drink wine.
I picked some favourite things to cook for friends. Spare ribs marinaded overnight; salt and Sichuan pepper king prawns; aromatic beef, slow-cooked with garlic, ginger and star anise; a spicy chicken stir fry and a side of pak choi and oyster sauce. Finally, a sticky pudding finish.
I chose white wines – aromatic white wines perfect with the myriad of flavours and aromas from my Chinese feast.
Here are my five whites (and a dessert wine too):
Extra Special Viognier (ASDA, £5). Peachy, perfectly peachy. Peachy and peppery in fact, with hints of apricots. This wine won a bronze at the 2014 International Wine Challenge and this was a winner too with the prawns. A slight spice in this French wine complemented the spicy but aromatic Sichuan blend which fireworked the prawns.
Tesco finest Tingleup Riesling (£9.99) It has juicy seams of lemon and lime cutting right through it. Mouthwatering rivers of citrus race and surge with flavour. Wow. What a star. Perhaps the spare ribs would be great with a red, but I’ll tell you what; the taste tangle of flavours in the marinade and the tingle of the Tingleup, was akin to a melting, sherbetty, Flying Saucer kiddies’ Penny Tray sweet. Trust me.
The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling (£6.99, Aldi) This wine is a ladle of lime, crisp and sparky. It didn’t shine as bright as the Tingleup by glass-to-glass comparison, but if this were the only wine in the world I wouldn’t complain. The prawns had a dipping sauce which included a multi-squeeze of three limes (and one mischievous wayward lime pip) and Aldi’s wine shrugged off the citrus competition.
Viñas del Vero Gewürztraminer, Somontano 2013 (£10.49,Majestic) is from northern Spain and is a veritable tease of aromas, with roses, tropical fruit and lychee. I love gewurtz. My slow-cooked gingery beef was hazed in aromatic, spicy perfume from the star anise. Along came the gewurtz which said, hey, I can match this.
The Society’s Vin D’Alsace (The Wine Society, £8.50) A favourite wine of mine, and it seemed right it should grace the table for a Chinese feast. It’s a blend of sylvaner, which gives the wine its structure, and riesling, gewurztraminer and pinot gris, with a touch of muscat. All wonderful Chinese matches in their own right; blended together a shoo-in.
This was brilliant with the simple pak choi which was stirfried in moments with garlic then graced with chilli. The wine is full and fruity, not too complex, but with a tastebud ping pong.
I don’t usually do puds, but I made toffee and sesame grilled bananas. With them, a “small” glass of Sticky End Sauvignon Blanc 2012, (£15.99, Majestic; mix and match two bottles and save 33% – £10.65). I can’t tell you how gorgeous this is. The wine is a treat of lychees, apricot, caramel topping, vanilla and a shake of spice. A Sticky End for a perfect sticky end.
(I took all my recipes from www.bbcgoodfood.com)
Also in my glass. … some last minute Valentine’s Day thoughts. Louis Delaunay Champagne is reduced to £12.99 from £25.99 at Tesco until today (February 14th). It is apple crisp, with green apple and biscuit aromas. Cono Sur has included a gift tag for you to personalise a special Valentine bottle of its Sparkling Rosé (on offer at £7.49 in Tesco also until today, Feb 14).
Finally, Bloom Gin is created by the world’s first female master gin distiller, Joanne Moore. It is a lovely floral flirt of botanics, and comes complete with a pink bow and gift tag at Sainsbury and Waitrose (RRP £22).
Published in the saturday extra magazine February 14, 2015