The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2015

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Page 124 of 140

124  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2015 ASIA W ith 1.35 billion people and hugely different regional cuisine styles across a vast territory, China presents a challenge. Pairing Chinese cuisine with equally diversified California wines can be a daunting task. These challenges to adapt to local cuisines reflect the limita- tion of traditional wine-pairing theory. Eight regional cuisines have been widely recognized within China; these styles are distinct from one another due to factors such as available resources, climate, geography, history, cooking techniques and lifestyle. A study of Chinese cuisine style and its impact on people's palates could offer us a crystal ball to tell which California wines might capture the Chinese wine lover's heart in the next ten years. After all, understanding the Chinese palate could certainly help California wines gain a head start in the Chinese wine market. On the following pages, we highlight five regions California winemakers should get to know. Lu (Shandong) Cuisine Shandong cuisine is considered the most influential in northern China and has a huge influence on imperial dishes. Comprised of Jinan (inland) cuisine and Jiaodong (coastal) cuisine, Shandong cuisine is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness. A rich, flavor-preferred palate, full-bodied wine with relatively high alcohol level should be able to gain some traction in this region. Jinan cuisine is relatively rich and generous. It goes well with full-bodied whites and medium-to-full–bodied reds. With lighter seafood dishes in the Jiaodong cuisine, wine lovers might try some of the more aromatic and light-bodied whites; zesty Sauvignon Blanc from cool-climate Santa Ynez Valley could be a solid bet for some famous dishes in this region. Chuan (Sichuan) cuisine Arguably the best-known Chinese cuisine in the world, Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine is in fact a product of globaliza- tion. Peppercorns that were brought to China from the Americas in the 18th century largely determined Sichuan cuisine's distinctively spicy taste. Off-dry or sweet whites such as Chenin Blanc and Rieslings are quite popular, as they help to take the edge off the heat. But wait! Isn't this precisely what spice-lovers enjoy—prolonging the heat and spiciness? I have recently tried some of my favorite Sichuan East Meets West Don't be fooled by the name of the classic dish, Sea Cucumber with Roast Spring Onion; although it is seafood, the flavors are intensely rich and pungent due to the use of soy sauce and scallions.

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