Wine pairing was never my thing but I have been learning, trying to pair different wines with different sort of food whenever possible. No, it is not an excuse to drink but part of a learning process. I think many would agree that Chinese food / wine pairing is difficult likely because of the wide range of flavors one would experience in one single meal. In many cases, quite a number of different types wines would be selected in one single Chinese meal to match the many individual dishes. Not an easy task for any sommelier in my opinion, not to mention for an average diner like myself with limited knowledge of wine. A new iPad app named Flavors Asia may be able to assist those trying to enjoy matching wines while having a Chinese or even other Southeast Asian cuisines. This newly launched iPad app developed by Estates and Wines, the Moët Hennessy Wine Division, attempts to provide a solution for wine lovers when having difficulties in pairing wines with Asian food. It is this very app that interested me in attending the event. Without making a fuzz about it, I am sure it is quite obvious that the suggested wines in the app are all from their own unique collection such as Cloudy Bay, Cape Mentelle and Chandon.
The iPad app is based on the hardcopy coffee table book of the same title, The Heavenly Wine Match with the Flavours of Asia. Unlike the hardcopy, the information in the App, including wines and individual dishes are updated regularly. User can find the suggested pairing using different filters such as ingredients, regional cuisines as well as flavours. Of course there would be brand stories for the different vineyards under their collection, what do you expect right???
In any case, this iPad can serve as a good reference and indication for the type of wines (and not necessarily a certain vintage) to go with the various common dishes such as sweet and sour pork, Peking duck and Bak Kut Teh. The user interface is quite intuitive but require a further refinement in the filtering section because the filter page popups by default and not very intuitive to user how to remove that (drag it down to the bottom). Right now there is about a total of 60 Asian dishes of different regional cuisines sorted by countries. Where better to host the launch / preview of the App in one of Asia's culinary capitals, Hong Kong! The event was held at Island Tang.
Island Tang Appetizer Delights paired with Chandon Brut & Terrazas Reserva Malbec. The appetizer consisted of roasted pork belly, deep fried salt & pepper frog legs, deep fried tofu and delicious thousand years eggs. What surprised me the most or should I say surprised most of us was how the Chandon paired very well with the Chandon. Perhaps it was the crisp nature of Chandon that balanced out the rather strong flavors of the thousand year eggs or the bubbly nature of the wine that helped to cleanse the palate for the next item. Either way, the lightness and bubbly nature of the Chandon was a good match with the appetizers compared with the Malbec.
Double-boiled Meat Ball with Hairy Crab in Chicken Bouillon paired with Cloudy Bay Point Gris. Yes, we paired sort of soup with wine and it was actually quite ... refreshing. For this serving, I was actually more interested in the Meat Ball with Hairy Crab because I didn't realize that until I had a deep bite into the meatball and tasted the fillings. The combination was very good, the soft tender meat was lighter in flavors until you had a deeper bite into the hairy crab fillings. Seems like a simple bouillon but I say a lot of work and thoughts have been put into it. Thumbs up!
Pan-fried Filler of spotted Garoupa with Premium Soy Sauce paired with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay. Quite a boring dish but thanks to the Chardonnay which was quite fruity on the nose but slightly smoky character to it. An easy to drink Chardonnay which I may purchase on a regularly basis perhaps.
Pan-fried Chicken Fillet Marinated with fermented bean Curd paired with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay (2008?) & Chandon Brut. Thinly sliced with richness of fermented bean curd flavors, this dish was my favorite on that evening. As for the pairing wine, the Chardonnay would be my pick because of the rather smoky character of the wine that matches quite well with the richness of the fermented bean curd.
Stewed de-boned Pig Trotter with Black Truffle Sauce paired with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon (2006?). The item was quite pungent in terms of flavors, the richness of the stew requires something interesting to pair with especially it was quite a big flavor jump compared with the previous dishes. The selected Cabernet Sauvignon () , while fruity with obvious spices contained quite heavy acidity in my opinion. Not my favourite pairing but wines and flavors were never a subjective matter anyhow.
Braised Wagyu Short Rib with Onions, Peking Scallions and Spring Onions paired with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon (2006). The Wagyu Short Rib was soft and close to melt in your mouth with the gluey texture all around.
Braised Goose Web with Abalone Sauce on Egg Noodles did not come with any recommended pairing, it was a test for us to decide what is the best! I picked the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay which surprising many agreed as well.
Chilled Mango Pudding was the dessert and it was paired with Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling. It is treated as a dessert wine in many cases, while less sweet and thick as Sauternes, I think it can easily be a great yet more affordable alternative.
So have you mastered the skill of wine pairing? Sorry for such a lame joke right? It takes a lifetime of learning to master such a skill and with new breed of wines coming out every year, I am sure it is an adventure for any wine lover. If you think this very informative iPad app developed by Estates and Wines can be handy, try it out by downloading it <here> from iTunes, it is FREE by the way.
I did mention about there is a hardcopy book which the iPad App based on right?
Yeah, I have 4 to give away and if you are interested in wining one in addition to the iPad one (if you have an iPad that is), simply do the following 3 simple steps:
- Download the Flavours Asia iPad App <here>
- Find one spelling mistake anywhere in the App (Estates and Wines is going to freak out when they see my rules for this little competition haha)
- Leave me a comment FIRST indicating you have found one, THEN email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer to ensure priority.
Yes it is a first come first win scenario with no deadline. What if you do not own an iPad and you want to win this book? Simply try to do the following 3 simple steps.
- Browse my blog and find three (3) spelling mistake anywhere in the blog. Quite easy don't worry! :)
- Leave me a comment FIRST indicating you have found the three (3) spelling errors in my blog, THEN email me at email@example.com with your answer to ensure priority.
Have fun hunting!