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Let our wines take you on a journey to Asia

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It is a fact, " world food " and " fusion cuisine " become more and more part of our eating habits and seduce more and more gastronomes the world over. For too long, Asian cuisine was associated with the drinking of jasmine tea or beer and has had little success attracting fine wines consumers. Things are changing at a very rapid pace.
If many food critics mention Alsace wines amongst the best to match with oriental cuisine, we put forward to you the opinion of some of the most knowledgeable and unbiased of them : Dr N.K. YONG and his wife Melina . Their experience and authority go beyond their native Singapore and even Asia. Dr N.K. YONG is for instance the former world-wide president of the influential and respected
International Wine & Food Society ... and by the way, a great supporter of our wines.
Yes, our wines are the chopsticks' favourites !

  • CHINA : is such a vast country that one cannot speak of a single universal Chinese cuisine. All cuisines develop out of the local lifestyle and culture, local climatic conditions and availability of raw materials.
    Thus there have evolved regional cuisines, conveniently labelled according to the major dialect group of the region, but these can be broadly grouped into Northern Chinese (Peking and Shanghainese) and Southern (Cantonese, Szechuan, Teochew, Hokkien and Hakka).
    ¤ Northern China:
    SHANGHAINESE cuisine tends to be more oily and highly-flavoured because of the preference for slow gentle braising as opposed to stir-frying. Sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sesame oil and rice wine are the favourite seasonings used.
    The most famous Shanghainese dish is the delicious hairy crab which is served steamed with an accompanying vinegar sauce to which sugar and ginger are added. The choice of a suitable wine can be tricky and the best choice would be a rich wine with a high acidity, like a rich Riesling Vendange Tardive .
    BEIJING : the most popular dish is the Beijing duck which has been dried in the cold dry northern winds before being roasted. Thin slices of the crispy skin are wrapped in a steamed bun with slices of cucumber and a sprig of spring onion and eaten with a sweet plum sauce - a very difficult combination to complement. One way of coping with this is to limit the use of the sweet sauce.
    RECOMMENDED WINES : Tokay Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer or Vendanges Tardives
    ¤ Southern China:
    CANTONESE is the most famous and popular of Chinese cuisines. The main characteristics of Cantonese cuisine are its subtlety and finesse, its fineness and delicacy of flavour and its balance of textures. Seasoning is used much more sparingly in order not to mask the natural flavours of the meat and seafood. It is the cuisine that many consider on par with French.
    RECOMMENDED WINES : Pinot blanc, Gentil, Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris with fish and seafood dishes, Gewurztraminer or Tokay Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive for the roasted meat and poultry dishes.
    SZECHUAN is without doubt the most spicy of Chinese cuisines. Because of the strong Indian influence brought in by traders and missionaries, spices, herbs and chillies dominate the flavours. A strong Buddhist influence is seen in the large number of vegetarian dishes, often garnished with a “Fish Sauce” which is actually a mix of vinegar, garlic, ginger, spring onions and hot bean paste !
    RECOMMENDED WINES: Tokay Pinot Gris, a rich Gewurztraminer or a Vendange Tardive
  • INDONESIAN and MALAYSIAN cuisines : reflect many different influences - Dutch, Chinese, Indian and Portugese - and the abundance of local grown spices and herbs: nutmeg, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and chillies. Coconut milk, peanuts, candlenuts, shrimp paste and combinations of the spices and leaves, such as pandan leaves, are used as binding agents in place of flour and butter.
    Frying in coconut oil is the traditional and still the most popular method of cooking. Spices and chillies are used in abundance, often masking or altering the taste of the meat, fish, poultry and vegetables, partly for taste and partly in the belief that they act as preservatives.
    RECOMMENDED WINES : Tokay Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer or a rich Vendange Tardive
  • THAI cuisine: is one of the most interesting, most varied and attractive of Asian cuisines. It is not subtle in the way Cantonese is, it is as spicy as Indonesian and Malaysian but richer and more multidimensional. It is simply one of the great Asian cuisines and shares with Cantonese the supreme accolade – "a cuisine you never tire of eating".
    Coconut milk is so widely used in Thai cuisine, from soups to dessert, that it could be said to be the foundation on which Thai cooking is built. The presence of coconut milk lends a unique dimension to the flavours, and brings richness and creaminess to the dishes .
    Curry paste is the other pillar of Thai cuisine — there are two basic types, red and green curry paste, the colour being contributed by the colour of the chillies used. The other ingredients common to both are onions or shallots, garlic, fresh coriander, cumin, black peppercorns, turmeric, paprika and lemon, lemon grass or lime. Red curry paste contains in addition galangal and dried shrimp paste.
    RECOMMENDED WINES : This mixture of spices, herbs and coconut milk may make it difficult but not impossible to find a wine to cope with all the exotic flavours. Gewurztraminer both the regular cuvée and late-picked, is the best choice. It is almost as exotic in its taste, and also possesses sufficient body to counteract the hotness of the chillies and spices.
    For the other Thai dishes, especially the seafood, both Pinot blanc, Gentil or Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris are good accompaniments. The choice between regular cuvées and late-picked depends on how sweet or chilli-hot the dish is, in which case the late-picked would be the better choice.
    Thai desserts are almost all based on coconut milk and are best matched with Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive. For very sweet deserts, Gewurztraminer Sélections de Grains Nobles with its lychee and roses bouquet and palate would be the wine of choice.
  • JAPANESE cuisine:
    No other race carries the art of cooking to the ultimate as the Japanese — to the point that it is almost a religious ceremony in itself. The emphasis is on purity of the raw material — not only in terms of freshness but in terms of the highest quality obtainable — the culinary artistry of the chef, and the poetry of the presentation. Respect for the raw material, for the skill of the chef and for the finished presentation are as important as the actual eating.
    The key to the understanding of Japanese cuisine is the role of soya bean. It is used in three forms — as a fermented paste called miso; secondly in the form of a custard-like cake, the tofu and thirdly in the form of soya sauce made not only from the soya beans but with salt, wheat or barley, water and malt. In addition to the familiar seasonings such as salt, pepper, sugar, spring onions, chives and onions, the Japanese use ingredients which are virtually unique to them — sesame oil; mild rice vinegar; a sweet rice wine called mirin; a hot green horse-radish powder called wasabe; a giant white radish called diakon; strips of dried gourd called kanpyo; and shirataki, made from a yam-like tuber. Japanese cooking methods are virtually confined to grilling, steaming, frying and boiling. They do not use roasting or baking.
    RECOMMENDED WINES :
    With sashimis and sushis, raw seafood - tuna, salmon, squid, prawns - eaten with wasabe, a very aromatic, intense wine is required like Gentil or Riesling.
    With tempuras : prawns, fish, chicken, eel, pork, green pepper, mushroom, aubergine, sweet potatoes - almost any food - lightly coated in batter and deep-fried, served piping-hot straight from the pot. Eaten dipped in light soya-sauce, Pinot blanc, Riesling or Tokay Pinot Gris. works best.
    With meat like TEPAN-YAKI, the food is grilled using sesame oil on a hot iron-plate or SHABU-SHABU : thinly-sliced beef and vegetables are simmered in boiling stock, served dipped in sauces garnished with pepper and sesame seeds, accompanied by assorted pickles, Pinot blanc or a Tokay Pinot Gris is recommended.
  • INDIAN cuisine:
    The common characteristic of all Indian cuisine is the use of a wide variety of spices - cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, pepper, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, poppy seeds, fresh and dried chillies and cloves. Dishes may vary in degrees of chilli hotness but they are full-flavoured spice-wise.
    RECOMMENDED WINES : a Gewurztraminer or a Tokay Pinot Gris with their full-bodied flavours and higher roundness are best equipped to cope with the heavy flavours of the spices.


Reproduced with the kind autorisation of CIVA ©

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