Making classic matches

Updated: 2012-03-11 07:55

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Hot pot goes with Tsingtao beer, and traditional baijiu compliments hearty dishes in the Northeastern Chinese-style. These are easy pairings. But what happens when French wines meet Cantonese cuisine?

At the Summer Pavilion of the Portman Ritz-Carlton, guests are enjoying innovative pairing of Chinese cuisine and French wines.

At the seven-course wine dinner we sampled, the meal starts with a roast duck roll with honey melon. Crisp, juicy honey melon cuts the grease of roast duck skin, creating a nice balance which is augmented by a glass of Hugel et Fils Pinot Blanc 2008, a lively wine with a bouquet of fruit aromas.

"The idea behind my pairing is that the wine should bring guests to focus on the Cantonese-style dishes, which are usually light, so the wine should not overpower the food," says Steven Lee, who presented the matches. He is a certified sommelier from Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits.

For the second-course, pan-fried baby lobster in superior shrimp sauce is matched with William Fevre Chablis 2010, with a developing citrus bouquet with floral notes. The Chablis stays on the table for the third course as well: sauted honey beans with mixed vegetables.

The fourth course is pan-fried rib-eye with wild mushrooms. A sophisticated Bouchard "Beaune du Chateau" 1er Cru 2008 creates a surprising collision with its elegant nose of black fruit in a classic Pinot Noir.

The next bottle is Chateau Latour-Martillac Rouge 2008, Grand Cru Classe de Graves, Pessac-Leognan AOC, a blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 35 percent of Merlot and 5 percent of Cabernet France with a complex aroma of fruit and liquorice.

While a Western-style dinner ends with a chocolate or dessert, a Chinese-style banquet signals the end with a rice or noodles dish.

In this case, it's fried goose liver with abalone sauce and egg-white fried rice.

A bottle of Perrin et Fils Reserve Rouge 2009, Cots du Rhone AOC - a blend of 60 percent Grenache, 20 percent syrah, and 20 percent Mourvedre - complements the richness of the goose liver with a spicy caramel nose, and its fine tannins and good length partner the rice well.

Chilled mango juice, sago rice, pomelo and seasonal fruit conclude the Cantonese feast.

"The idea behind pairing is to let our guests explore possibilities and have fun," says Kris Kaminsky, executive assistant manager of food and beverage.

The hotel also plans further pairings with sushi and Japanese whisky, which promises another journey for the taste buds.

Making classic matches

(China Daily 03/11/2012 page13)