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Chinese New Year Dishes Wine Pairing

Posted on February 06, 2015 by Jann Wong | 0 comments

Raise a glass to the brand new lunar year with the perfect wine pairing. As many families are beginning their preparation to kick-start this auspicious New Year, we on the other hand is experimenting with quirky wine pairing. At Bottles of Joy, we love to pair wine with the most unusual cuisines to find new taste and experience. Here we will share with you what best to pair with your favourite Chinese New Year dishes.

Here are 8 Perfect Wine Pairings for Traditional Chinese New Year Dishes

Yu Sheng / Lo Hei

Usually served as an appetizer during Chinese New Year feasts, Yu Sheng also known as Lo Hei is a popular raw fish (usually salmon) salad consisting of 27 ingredients such as white radish, carrots, red capsicum, turnips, red pickled ginger, sun-dried oranges, key lime leaves, Chinese parsley, chili, jellyfish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, Chinese shrimp crackers, five spice powder and other ingredients that are drenched with plum sauce, rice vinegar, kumquat paste and sesame oil. The tossing of this salad symbolises good fortune and longevity among Chinese families and businessmen. It is believed that the higher you toss the salad, the greater your fortune.

Wine Pairing: Chandon Sparkling Brut Classic

Taste: This classic wine emits apple and pear aromas that are accented by citrus spic over notes of almond and caramel in the bouquet. This wine pairs perfectly with the raw fish and nutty elements in the dish. The nutty and raw fish ingredients in the dish compliment the slightly nutty aroma of the wine leaving a refreshingly dry finish.


Steam Whole Fish

In Chinese, the word `fish’ sounds like `surplus’, symbolizing the surplus of money. This is a popular main dish served during Chinese New Year dinners. A whole fish is steamed with ginger and sprinkled with green onion tops together with onion garlic oil and soy sauce. Here is a good recipe you can use for this dish.

 Wine Pairing: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. If you prefer French wine, you can try Sancerre from Loire Valley, France.

Taste: Sauvignon Blanc is a zesty and refreshing wine bursting with tropical flavours leaving you with an abundant bouquet. Its crisp acidity goes divinely with seafood. Sancerre on the other hand is an evergreen choice that has a bright and vibrant aroma that has a grassy complexity to it. The wine has a distinctive gooseberry aroma and flavour that compliments seafood extremely well.


Chang Shou Mian

Commonly known as Longevity Noodles, Chang Shou Mian noodles are traditionally made with long strands of noodles that signify longevity. The general belief is that the longer the noodle, the longer and healthier the life. This is why the noodles are commonly eaten during birthday celebrations. There are many ways of preparing these noodles, common ways are stir-fried or drenching the noodles with a thick soupy broth.

Wine Pairing: Any Pinot Grigio wine or alternatively you can try Yllum Torrontes, an Argentinian native grape varietal.

Taste: Generally, Pinot Grigio wines are slightly acidic and crisp in flavour depending on which region it’s from. Picking one with a floral aroma would be a good choice. Torrontes on the other hand, has an enticing aroma filled with hints of peach, citrus fruits and flowers. The fruity and floral flavours partners wonderfully with meat and spicy Thai food.


Pen Cai

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A traditional Chinese Dish of Hakka origins, Pen Cai (also known as Treasure Pot) was initially a `peasants’ dish that used ingredients from the farm and served amongst Hakka families during Chinese New Year. Today Pen Cai consists of an assortment of rich ingredients such as Fatt Choi (dried moss), prawns, broccoli, carrots and wolfberries, white radish, abalone, scallops, and different types of fish. Each ingredient symbolises different meanings of prosperity, happiness, perpetual happiness and wealth.

Wine Pairing: Yllum Torrontes

Taste: The flowery scent of violet and peach finish partnered with its dry aftertaste compliments the sweet umami of this dish.


Shark Fin Soup

Considered as one of the eight treasured foods from the sea, this delicacy dates as far back as the Ming Dynasty in China. The delicacy was coveted by emperors during that time due to its unique flavour and elaborates preparation. These days however, the consumption of shark fin soup is heavily criticized due to major declines in the shark population, illegal poaching and hunting of sharks. It is common for fishermen to cut off the fin of the shark and abandon the shark to die in the ocean. As an alternative, you can prepare shark fin soup without the fins by using Shitake mushrooms, black fungus, cellophane noodles, skinless chicken breast, lean pork, unsalted chicken broth, 2 cups of water, an egg, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, white paper, salt and cornstarch. Find out how to make your very own faux shark fin soup here.

Wine Pairing: Forget the wine, cognac works best with the soup.

Taste: An extra drop of cognac goes a long way in enhancing the rich taste of this soup.


Whole Chicken

A whole chicken symbolises prosperity, joy and togetherness. The chicken has to be served together with its head, tail and feet to represent completeness. The chicken is usually prepared by first boiling or steaming it with some ginger and green onion. After it is cooked, it is served with a dipping sauce of grind ginger, garlic, onion, sesame oil and soy sauce. 

Wine Pairing: Italian Chianti and/or Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley of France or South Africa.

Taste: The medium-body dry red wine is fruity and ranges from moderate to high acidity and a finish that leans towards a slight bitterness. The aroma has a fruity yet faintly violet scent. Like most Italian wines, Chianti is slightly spicy and it pairs well with the ginger condiment of this dish. Chenin Blanc on the other hand, is a light-bodied white wine with sharp and crisp acidic flavours, primarily in the form of citrus fruits. Both of these wines pair great with white meat.




In Cantonese, `prawn’ sounds like laughter which makes it a symbol for joy during auspicious events like Chinese New Year. This tasty `Har Lok' recipe is one way to prepare prawns that will definitely bring you and your family much joy this Chinese New Year.

Wine Pairing: Sandalford Verdelho or any dry Riesling.


Taste: Sandalford Verdelho is an aromatic citrusy premium white wine whose lightness and acidic punch go perfectly with prawns or any shellfish. While dry Riesling can lift the fresh prawn taste of this dish while not masking the sweetness of it. It's the perfect way to pair prawns.


Nian Gao

Nian Gao (also known as new year cake) is a traditional glutinous rice cake delicacy that can be eaten either steamed, fried or even cold. However, the most common method of preparation is usually coating it in batter and deep frying it with yam. 

Its pronunciations sounds like 'year high', which symbolizes a higher income, a higher position, the growth of children, and generally the promise of a better year.

Wine Pairing: Sweet wine such as Moscato, ice wine and Port wine would be an ideal pairing.

Taste: Moscato is known for its surprising perfume-like fragrance, light-body and sweet and crisp taste. It goes perfect with savoury-sweet deserts like Nian Gao.

There you go! 8 wine pairings to go with your favourite traditional Chinese New Year dishes. If you want to know more about wine pairing, leave us comment or subscribe to us!


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