Five Wines for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Tonight marks the transition from the Year of the Snake to the Year of the Horse, kicking off a 15 day celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year. And what better way to celebrate than with wine!  While not seemingly the most obvious pairing, the Chinese actually have a long history of enjoying wines, especially those made from rice and exotic fruits such as lychee and plum.  Furthermore, Chinese wine consumption AND production are both at an all time high and China is now producing more wine each year than Australia, Chile and South Africa combined!  So in honor of the New Year, here are a few suggestions on what to enjoy during your celebrations.  Gan bei!

1.  2010 Silver Heights Helan Mountain ‘The Summit’, Ningxia, China (?!)

Yes, the Chinese are producing wine now and while the jury is still out as to the quality and longevity of these wines, why not be one of the first to pass judgment and try one for yourself!  This red blend is made by one of the few Chinese women winemakers, Emma Gao, using both Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere sourced from some of China’s highest elevation vineyards.

2.  Any young Bordeaux

To really follow Chinese drinking customs this year, try finding a young Bordeaux that has been recently released.  The Chinese are some of the largest consumers of these wines and it is thought that a young Bordeaux’s extensive tannins is a pleasing trait making them accessible to traditional tea drinkers.  Red is also an extremely lucky color for the new year and with a table set with all things red, why not add one more!

3.  Iron Horse Chinese Cuvee 2005

Nothing says celebration quite like sparkling wine and what better way to ring in the Year of the Horse than with a wine of the same name.  This special release wine pairs perfectly with dim sum and other fried dishes.  92 Points – Wine Spectator

4. German Gewürztraminer

The name “Gewürztraminer” literally means “the spicy one” and true to its name, German Gewürztraminer has both a complex spice profile as well as notes of sweet lychee, making it the perfect pairing to neutralize some of the traditional spicy dishes that will be served.

5. Orange Wines like Point Concepcion “Celestina” Pinot Grigio 2012

Oranges are a traditional symbol of good luck and will be consumed and used as decorations throughout the new year celebrations.  Orange wine is of course not made from oranges and is given its rusty, amber color as a result of macerating white grapes on their skins for extended periods of time.  Is this suggestion a stretch? Absolutely. But this gem from Santa Ynez will prove too delicious for you to notice.

WSA/NASA Silver Pin Certified Sommelier, Central Coast wine enthusiast and overall travel junkie

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