What wines do you pair with Asian food? I hear this question quite often. When we think of wine, we think of traditional European dishes such as roast beef, chicken, pasta, etc. But what do you do with a Malaysian sate with peanut sauce? That is what Haywire Winery from the Okanagan tried to answer for us, while we enjoyed a variety of dishes from across SE Asia at Kaya Malay Bistro on Broadway in Vancouver.
Our host from the evening together with Haywire winery was Stephanie Yuen, a well-known Asian culinary writer and radio show host here in Vancouver.
Our Asian Dishes
Our dishes this evening covered many different SE Asian countries, each with their own unique flavours and spices.
- Vegetable Samosa
- Chicken & Lamb Satay
- Japanese-style deep fried soft-shelled crab
- BBQ duck salad with Cantonese dressing
- Mandarin hot & sour soup
- Thai seafood soup
- Taiwanese stir-fried eggplant
- Korean-style grilled sablefish
- Kaya wok-fried egg noodles with shiitake mushrooms and siuchoy
- Vietnamese shrimp & scallop fried rice
- Berry & black rice pudding
- Deep fried banana and vanilla ice cream
These dishes, two at a time, were paired with a specific Haywire wine, which was meant to complement or enhance the food and vice versa.
The wines we sampled this evening, paired with the Asian dishes are:
- Haywire The Bub 2012 (not yet released to the public) – This wine has lees and a delicate citrus flavour, with an agressive bubble.
- Haywire Gamay Noir Rose 2011 – Crisp, juicy, and fresh. Light cherry aroma. Light body, dry, with strawberries and cherries on the palate. An easy sipper.
- Haywire Gewurztraminer 2012 – Light spicy rose nose. Medium body, dry with slight acidic prickle. Herbal, rose petals and sweet spice flavours.
- Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012 – Ripe peach skin and stone fruit nose. Medium body and medium acidity. Mineral, with apple and cooked stonefruit flavours. A bit peppery and some honey on the finish.
- Haywire Pinot Noir 2012 (limited release of 688 bottles for Chinese New Year) – Medium translucent garnet in colour. Spice, smoke, violets, strawberries and cherries on the nose. Light body, soft tannins, with violets and spice followed by sweet red cherries. Medium acidity with a mouth watering finish. This wine with it’s very limited production I’m sure will sell out quite quickly, so I recommend ordering a bottle or two before they are gone. You can order all the above wines from the Haywire website.
One thing that I immediately notice from the lineup is that all of the wines are light bodied, have low/no tannins, and are known for their fruit flavours. There was no big, tannic Cabernet Sauvignon in the lineup, which I think was the right decision. Who would want a big Cabernet with the delicate flavours from the deep fried soft shelled crab dish?
The first two dishes, Vegetable Samosa and Chicken & Lamb Satay, were our appetizers, and were paired with the sparkling “The Bub“. The samosa was not very flavourful, but I thought the grilled chicken satay with the peanut sauce was an excellent match for the Bub. Peanut sauce can get heavy on your palate but the bubble and acidity from The Bub cleaned that up nicely. The citrus flavour is also nice to pair with grilled chicken (think squeezing lemon juice on grilled chicken).
Our next two dishes were the Japanese-style deep fried soft-shelled crab and the BBQ duck salad with Cantonese dressing. I really liked how delicate the batter was for the crab and the delicate flavour of the crab. The Haywire Gamay Noir Rose with it’s crisp, juicy, fresh flavour was a complementary flavour to this dish. The BBQ duck salad in lettuce leaf served with Cantonese dressing (Hoisin sauce) was another of my favourite dishes of the night. I liked the richness of the duck together with the smokiness of the sauce, the small squares of crunchy celery and the crisp rice noodles. Again the fresh, light, fruity rose complemented, and did not overpower the dish.
Moving on to soups, we sampled the Mandarin hot & sour soup and the Thai seafood soup. The Mandarin soup was full of shrimp, tofu, mushroom and scallions and had a hint of chili spice. Although sweet and sour, I think it needed a bit of salt to bring out more of the flavour of this dish. Regardless I thought the Haywire Gewurztraminer worked with this dish, in particular it’s flowery component and the spice that you get from the Gew grape. The Thai seafood soup was very full bodied and full flavoured with the coconut milk and the Thai spices. This soup was full of seafood: shirmp, mussels and cuttlefish, along with assorted vegetables and tofu. Medium spicy, lemony and creamy. The lemongrass spice in this dish was very strong, particularly at the finish, BUT the lemongrass flavour I think worked the best with the flavours of the Gewurztraminer wine.
Our next two dishes were the Taiwanese stir-fried eggplant and Korean-style grilled sablefish, paired with the Haywire Pinot Noir. I did not know what to expect for Taiwanese style stir fried egg plant, and I was hoping that it would be similar to Malay style, that had dried shrimp paste in it. This dish did not have that strong flavour and aroma (which for some people not familar with this flavour and aroma, may have been a good choice). It was quite mild, sweet and a bit oily. The crunchiness of the beans were my favourite part of the dish. The eggplant was quite neutral in itself. This pairing was OK with the Pinot Noir, bring out some of the violets, but I think a better pairing was with the Gewurztraminer. The Korean-style grilled sablefish had quite a strong fishy flavour, which I think is characteristic of sablefish. To me, I enjoyed more the crunchy vegetables and the gingery sauce. The strong flavour of the fish I think did not work that well with the Pinot Noir. I love the Pinot Noir on it’s own, but the pairing did not work for me.
Our last two savory dishes for the evening were the Kaya wok-fried egg noodles with shiitake mushrooms and siuchoy and the Vietnamese shrimp & scallop fried rice. The noodle dish was a standard dish that you could get at any Chinese restaurant, but the Vietnamese shrimp and scallop fried rice was quite tasty. Everyone at our table enjoyed it. The rice was quite fragrant and buttery. The scallops were buttery on their own, and it paired nicely with the Haywire Pinot Gris. I think the acidity and the fruit of the Pinot Gris was a nice complement to the butteriness of the dish.
To finish the evening our desserts were the berry & black rice pudding and the deep fried banana (pisang goreng in Indonesia) with vanilla ice cream. I do enjoy Asian desserts, many of them making use of rice and various tropical fruits (ever try Filipino Halo-Halo?). These two dishes brought a smile to my face and my tastebuds. The black rice was cooked with coconut milk, making it very rich. The deep fried banana was soft with a light banana flavour. I think the high acidity from the sparkling “The Bub” worked very well with the creaminess of the fried banana. I also did not mind The Bub with the black rice pudding, although others at my table were not that fond of the pairing.
So overall a very interesting evening, showing us that indeed you can pair wine with Asian foods. I think those wines with higher acidity, good fruit flavour, and lighter in body showed their versatility in pairings.
Thank you to Haywire wines for inviting me to this event and to Kaya Malay Bistro for cooking this wide variety of Asian dishes.