Talk about wines to match Chinese food and a red from Turkey wouldn’t necessarily spring to mind.
Think again, for an afternoon spent with Birmingham wine merchant Chris Connolly tasting numerous wines and a table-full of dishes at Chung Ying Central revealed an absolute star.
Kalecik Karasi from Ancyra is made with a local Turkish grape.
It’s light without being insipid, with a mouth-freshening acidity and a fruitiness that stands up well to fuller-flavoured dishes.
It was a definite winner with Vietnamese Spring Rolls, a dish that Chris and I had thought would be best suited by an off-dry Riesling.
Instead the Kalecik Karasi – from central Turkey – worked brilliantly.
It worked well, too, with Lamb in Ginger & Spring Onion, with Chris waxing lyrical about its “expressive, crunchy acidity lending a brightness and zing to the whole experience.”
Such is the way that wine merchants speak….
A wine to suit many dishes
But let’s get back to the Riesling we drank – Guntrum 2016 from Germany.
It’s a grape that works well with so many different dishes and is great with Chinese food.
During our long and arduous afternoon’s work, the Guntrum demonstrated its versatility time and again and would be a ‘go to’ bottle if I were in a group eating a whole range of different dishes.
It worked best of all here with Chung Ying Central’s gorgeous Salt & Chilli Squid.
Chris explains why better than I: “Dishes with a bit of chilli heat to them frequently get paired with somewhat heavier, higher alcohol wines which are mistakenly believed to work well with the intensity of the dish.
“In reality, the alcohol merely serves to exaggerate the heat and spiciness whilst the richness of the wine frequently overwhelms the rest of the dish.
“Consequently, the off-dry Riesling was a shoo-in here, refreshing the palate beautifully with its lightness and delicacy whilst the chilli absorbed some of the sweetness to leave a clean, dry finish.”
Another great white
Another white wine, the Gruner Veltliner ‘Johann’ 2015 from Austria, meanwhile, was a great match with Tempura King Prawns.
Gruner Veltliner is one of my favourite grapes currently and this version is an absolutely beauty.
And while we’re at it, let’s sing the praises of the lovely South African white, Viognier Arendsig 2016, which has poise and length and retained its elegance alongside many of the dishes.
Try it with Chicken Satay Skewers or Monkfish in Salt & Chilli.
France triumphed with the beguiling dry rose Domaine de la Bastide, Cotes du Rhone Rose 2016.
Its refreshing light red fruit notes were a delight with the comfort food dumplings Beef Siu Mai.
It was also a match with Chicken Katsu Curry – a relief since Chris and I had tried most of the other wines on the table before giving the Bastide a chance.
A red that matches different dishes
But perhaps the afternoon’s Eureka moment was provided by the modest southern Spanish red Castillo de Jumilla, Monastrell 2015.
It’s everything I’m not – young, juicy and vibrant.
And it was these qualities that allowed it to shine repeatedly alongside all sorts of dishes.
It was lovely with Beef in Black Bean Sauce and Crispy KP Dumplings.
Again, this is a wine I’d happily order to drink in a group scoffing a whole range of dishes, confident it wouldn’t be embarrassed by very many of the tastes.
All the wines are available on Chung Ying Central’s wine list.
Chris is managing director of the long-established family-run Birmingham wine merchants Connolly’s Wine, with premises in the Jewellery Quarter and Solihull.
Find out more at https://www.connollyswine.co.uk
Chung Ying Central
126 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 3AP. 0121 400 0888.
I work as a freelance consultant with the Chung Ying group.