Let’s face it: There’s a lot to feel anxious about right now. As coronavirus spreads, we’re all concerned about staying healthy and sane during weeks of self-isolation. We miss our loved ones who are far away, and we’re trying not to scream at the ones we live with. And we’re drinking lots of wine, and eating lots of delivery food, especially Chinese. Which is fine, but it got us wondering: what are the best wines to pair with Chinese food? 

After all, Chinese restaurants are facing big challenges right now. The last few weeks have seen a spike in attacks against Asian Americans and many Chinese-owned businesses, including restaurants, are struggling amid misunderstandings and fears around the pandemic. 

So, we want to dispel this myth in case anyone is hesitating about calling in their usual takeout order from their local Chinese restaurant. 

The fact is: It’s totally safe to eat Chinese food – Hooray!

And here’s another hot take: pairing wine with your Chinese take-out or delivery order is an easy, inexpensive way to treat yourself right now and elevate your meal to something extra special.

When it comes to ordering from any kind of restaurant right now, experts recommend taking some precautions. For instance, select “contactless” delivery, and disinfect and throw out the packaging. Oh, and of course, be sure to keep washing your hands and not touching your face.

If you’re following those precautions, you can feel free to enjoy any takeout food that you’d normally get. Plus, you can feel good about supporting local businesses. It’s a win-win. 

Now, we love Chinese food. There are so many options and it’s all super delicious. And let’s be real: we could use a little comfort food right about now.

Wondering what to sip alongside your meal? It’s easy, just follow some general guidelines. Take a look at this guide to help you find the best wines to pair with Chinese food.

Best wines to pair with Chinese food: An assorted spread of Chinese food

Some General Guidelines

When picking a vino to go with many popular Chinese dishes, the type of protein is actually secondary to the flavors in the sauce.

If you like to order family style (i.e., getting a whole bunch of dishes and sharing), some wines work really well across the board. 

For instance, an off-dry Riesling is a solid choice. Why? 

  1. It’s cold. White wines are best served chilled, and a cool sip helps to tame the heat of a spicy dish.
  2. It’s slightly sweet, and sweetness in wine complements saltier or spiced foods.
  3. It’s low-alcohol. This makes it easier to drink over the course of a meal.

If you don’t have a Riesling on hand, you could also opt for a white wine like Gewürztraminer or Viognier, which both have light, floral notes.

Best wines to pair with Chinese food: A man eats Chinese food paired with a glass of red wine

Wine Pairings

Appetizers

For egg rolls, spring rolls, and other fried favorites, a sparkling wine like Cava is a great choice. The bubbles cut through the fat of fried foods. Not a fan of bubbly? You can also go with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Noodle Dishes

Lo mein, which is dressed in soy sauce, has a big kick of umami flavor. This flavor profile goes well with a light and grassy Sauvignon Blanc or a bright, peppery Grüner Veltliner.

Fried dishes like chow mein and fried rice pair well with a crisp, unoaked Chardonnay, a dry Riesling, or even a sparkling wine.

Popular Entrees

For fried dishes in sweet sauces, go with a light wine that you can chill.

  • Sesame Chicken goes well with a light, slightly fizzy Lambrusco.
  • The sweetness in Moscato is a good match for Sweet & Sour chicken or pork. You can also opt for a zesty, floral Torrontés or an aromatic Chenin Blanc. Sweet and tangy Orange Chicken goes well with a light Pinot Gris.

For spicier dishes like General Tso’s, go with Gewürztraminer or a light and fruity Gamay if you like red wine. Kung Pao chicken pairs well with an off-dry Riesling, aromatic Gewurztraminer, or Viognier from the Northern Rhône region.

Dishes served with hoisin sauce, like Moo Shu Pork, go well with an off-dry Riesling or Chardonnay. You could also reach for a red wine like a fruity Beaujolais or Merlot, or a peppery Cabernet Franc.

Beef & Broccoli is one of the few dishes that pair well with a bolder red wine. To match the intense flavors, you can go with a fruity Merlot or even Malbec. Similarly, spicy Mongolian beef goes well with the bright fruit flavors in Grenache. Just be sure to avoid an overly tannic red. 

Peking Duck, known for its thin, crisp skin and sweet glaze, goes well with a lighter red like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.

Best wines to pair with Chinese food: A selection of dim sum in bamboo steamer baskets.

In Vino Finito

It’s totally safe to enjoy Chinese food from your favorite local spot while self-isolating, or really at any time. And by sipping one of these best wines to pair with Chinese food, you can elevate your usual takeout order to something extra special.

Do you love a menu item that we didn’t cover? Email us at concierge@brightcellars.com and we can help you pick a wine.

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

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