Pair It: Informal Chinese Take Out Night with Friends

22 02 2010
Chinese Take Away Dumplings

Dumplings 1 © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

First of all, a heartfelt congratulations to one of the first “vines” on this Trellis. Amy and Joey tied the knot this past Saturday and I want to wish them both a happy and healthy life together – full of love, peace and amazing times! Santé! Hope that the wedding wines worked out for you!

Also, Saturday was my nephews birthday (hope it was fun Alex) as well as my hair stylist Annie. Whew. It was a busy, busy day!

About 6 PM Saturday night, we had good friends Maria and Ryan along with their beautiful girls for an informal take-in dinner.  I don’t know about all of you, but my most favorite food in the world is Chinese and my most favorite of all Chinese dishes is the dumpling. Anytime I am taking in Chinese food, I know that it will always mean I will be enjoying my second favorite pairing with Pinot Noir.

Since we were having company and Maria is not a huge fan of Chinese food, I tried to select some dishes that had the same flavour profiles as other choices she enjoys in other cuisines. Lemon Chicken and prawns in garlic sauce were two of the many selections I made in this vein.

Also knowing that she is a fan of dry white wines, particularly Pinot Grigio, I wanted to offer up some choices to expand her wine palette as well. I selected some value-driven bottles that I felt would pair well with many of these dishes.

To start, I selected the Robert Mondavi 2007 Fumé Blanc (Napa, CA). Robert Mondavi, and his family,  have been pioneers in the American wine scene and education before wine was respected or widely accepted here in the states. Please click to learn all about Mr. Mondavi – his history, leadership and how he changed the way we all look at  the US-based industry. Mondavi invented (more like reinterpreted) “Fume Blanc” in 1966. He took Sauvignon Blanc, a varietal not appreciated at that time, from Napa and barrel aged it (usually it is aged in steel tanks). This added some richer, integrated oak character and mouthfeel that we had not seen before and he named it and created a new market with a huge following! Robert Mondavi passed away in May of 2008, at the age of 94, 4 years after losing power in a buyout by Constellation Brands in 2004.

Back to the wine! This 2007 Mondavi Fume Blanc is fairly dry, crisp, and light. It stands up well to appetizers and fried foods with a bit of acidity, minerality and a hint of lychee, melon, vanilla, lemon and lime. Very light in the glass and fast on the finish. I was happy to see the table enjoying it and I feel it works best as an apéritif with some light bites (nice with the shrimp toast). For the price, I feel it is a value  at around $12 USD, but I have seen some huge sales where I have purchased it for $10. The beauty of it is that this It is widely available due to huge production. Constellation has done a great job since gaining control, as the wines produced have been of excellent quality overall and the reserve wines have been consistently outstanding. They make a range of wines fat price points between $8 to $150 USD (for the higher-end reserve Cabernets).

Soon it was time for pork dumplings (I love them steamed) and of course Pinot Noir. I am saving (hording) what I have left of my 2006 Cambria Julia’s Vineyard to see how it ages, so I decided to open one of my two remaining Argyle 2006 (Dundee, OR) bottles ($18-25 USD). When last tasted a few months back, it was very nice, but felt a bit light and had a fast finish (count how long you can taste it in your mouth after you swallow). Well, I seems that waiting a few months has done this bottle good. It gained some weight (not as light in mouthfeel) though fairly light red in the glass – you can still see your hand through it (which is fine-I will get more into that on my next Pinot Noir post). I tasted black cherry, vanilla and cola (think Dr pepper but buttery), dark berry, dark chocolate with some spices – and it was smooth sailing with a long finish. This has arguably elevated itself to rival the Cambria. This also went extremely well with the boneless pork ribs and the 5-spice mixture that integrated perfectly with this wine.

As we were ready for main courses, I opened up what has become my “go to” house white wine at the moment. The 2008 Big House White (Soledad, CA) is an amazing value. For about $8-10 USD, it brings what could be the value deal of the year (yes, I bought a case of this after being blown away by the quality price ratio). Nice floral nose with flavours of peach, apricot, cantaloupe with just a touch of crisp acidity and long finish with a nice  mouthfeel. Big House Wines makes several amazing value priced wines and I recommend you check them all out. The Big House Pink and Red are solid, causal and fun. The branding is excellent and check out the website – which delivers on this whole fun concept.

This wine is a blend of several white grape varietals that are not usually on the tip of our tongues here in the US – Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Malvasia Bianca, Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli (sometimes Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Riesling and Pinot Grigio). This wine worked well with the Lemon Chicken as well as the spicier Singapore Mei Fun (some sweet helps fan the flames of hot spice). For fans of blends like Conundrum ($20-25 USD) you will love this at less than half the price (Steve and Kevin, please try this) for your go-to house white wine.

To round off the night, our friends brought over a dessert plate with Napoleon, cannoli and several other mini pastries – so I decided to open the 2007 Trefethen Late Harvest Riesling (Napa. CA). This special bottle was dark gold and thick on the tongue with Raisin, spice and caramel notes and not cloyingly sweet.  This wine is really amazing. It is not cheap, but really excellent quality. This is like a cross between an Inniskillin Icewine (go Canada) and a French Sauterne and comes in a beautiful half bottle (375 ml) and typically costs $30-50 USD. It is really good, especially if you like the sweet stuff, and this is extremely high-end offering from Trefethen – widely known for their excellent Cabernet.

An excellent evening with good friends, good food and nice conversation. Wine brings people together but good friends and excellent food takes it to another level and enhances everything. Share some wine with friends and see.

Steve From the Trellis

© 2010 Tales From the Trellis





2 responses

22 02 2010
Kim N

Totally agree with the Big House wines. jay and i served lots of big House Red for our wedding and hands down it was a big hit!

22 02 2010


I got hooked on the Pink, which I found amazing and went case on it a few summers ago when Randall Grahm still owned and produced it. Dry rose with a buttery smooth finish. Perfect summer sipper but love it anytime! The red is fruity and fun and good for anytime, this white I am putting on my list for one of the top values ever. Check out his site, I love this guy! Irreverent stuff.

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