Blue Grouse Wines Meet Chinese Food at Sun Sui Wah

Sun Sui Wah Vancouver (Image courtesy www.vancitybuzz.com)

Sun Sui Wah Vancouver (Image courtesy www.vancitybuzz.com)

Two points that you may not have thought of, but have experienced:

  1. When you go to a restaurant, the bottles of wine are not decanted ahead of time, so you taste the wine as it is just opened.
  2. You go to a Chinese restaurant but are unsure of which wines to pair with the cuisine.  You opt for tea.

The first point is common for any type of restaurant.  Why would restaurants decant bottles of wine, if they do not know which bottles people will order that day?  While the second point, is more specific, and can make or break a nice meal.  My experience below, of pairing 4 bottles of wine from Blue Grouse Estate Winery, (located in Duncan, BC), with Chinese food from the Sun Sui Wah Restaurant on Main St in Vancouver, will hopefully give you some ideas of what you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation.

4 Wines From Blue Grouse Estate Winery

I received these 4 bottles of wine from the winery to review:

  • Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2015 ($20)
  • Blue Grouse Quill Rose Wine 2015 ($17)
  • Blue Grouse Quill Red Wine 2014 ($19)
  • Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2014 ($26)
Blue Grouse Quill Rose and Red blend and Estate Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

Blue Grouse Quill Rose and Red blend and Estate Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir

I reviewed their wines before, and I thought that pairing these wines up with food and writing about the experience would be very interesting, both to me, and to you.

Why did I pick to pair these wines with Sun Sui Wah’s food?  For one, there are many Chinese restaurants in Vancouver. The other reason, is that I think cool climate Pinot Noir, Rose, and Pinot Gris from Blue Grouse will be very complimentary to Chinese food.  Lovely, delicate, red fruit aromas and flavours, and refreshing acidity in the wines should work well.  Did it?

My Wine and Food Pairings

The dishes that we paired with these four wines are:

  • Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2015 with Shredded pork with bean sprouts and chives
  • Blue Grouse Quill Rose Wine 2015 with Braised Oyster with onion and ginger hot pot
  • Blue Grouse Quill Red Wine 2014 with Black Bean Chicken
  • Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2014 with BBQ Duck

These wines were chilled before I ventured out to Sun Sui Wah, and only opened once I arrived at the restaurant; so no decanting.

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2015 with Shredded Pork

My choice for this pairing was the stone fruit flavour and acidity for this aromatic grape variety with the mild flavours of shredded pork, bean sprouts and chives. The Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Gris 2015 had youthful aromas of citrus, honey, pear, crisp apple and lees.  It was dry with medium acidity.  It was quite silky on the palate, with stone fruits, green apple and a hint of blossom on the palate.  It also had a nice stony minerality that become stronger toward the finish.  Rating: 4.5 Stars

The Shredded Pork was light and creamy.   The acidity in the wine balanced that creaminess.  The fruitiness was a complementary flavour to this more neutral flavoured dish. A recommended pairing.

Braised oyster hot pot from Sun Sui Wah Restaurant

Braised oyster hot pot from Sun Sui Wah Restaurant

Blue Grouse Quill Rose Wine 2015 with Braised Oyster

Rose wine tends to show tart red fruits, like strawberries, and/or other tart flavours, such as red currant or tart red cherries.  I thought the tartness and red fruit flavours, and the acidity in the wine, would be a nice foil to the earthiness and saltiness of the oyster in this dish.  The Blue Grouse Quill Rose Wine 2015 was made from the Gamay Noir grape, which tends to be low in tannins and has nice red fruit flavours, much like it’s cousin, Pinot Noir.  This wine had aromas of strawberries, red cherries and light lees.  It was dry on the palate, with above average acidity, and a light acidic prickle on the tongue.  Flavours of tart red cherries, strawberries, and rhubarb.  Longer length with those red fruit flavours continuing to the finish.  Bright acidity on the finish.  Overall an excellent rose.  Rating 4.5 Stars.

The braised oyster was first lightly battered and then deep-fried, giving it a nice crispy outer texture, and a creamy, earthy, salty inside.  The ginger added some sweet spice to the dish.  I really liked how the tartness of the wine matched up with this dish.  Red fruit flavours were a nice counter balance to the earthiness of the oyster.  My favourite pairing of the dinner.

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir with BBQ duck on left and Black Bean Chicken on right

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir with BBQ duck on left and Black Bean Chicken on right

Blue Grouse Quill Red Wine 2014 with Black Bean Chicken

The Blue Grouse Quill Red wine is a blend of 54.5% Merlot, 39.5% Cabernet Franc and 6% Marechal Foch.  A full-bodied red wine. It has deep aromas of black fruit, red cherry and sweet spice.  It was very round and smooth, with dark fruits, sweet spice, and cedar flavours, and pepperiness that started on the mid-palate and lasted to the finish.  Pepper, dark fruit, vanilla and firmer tannins on the finish. Rating: 4.5 Stars

The pairing was with the Black Bean Chicken, which was not my first choice as this is quite a full-bodied wine with firmer tannins.  I did have to accommodate my dining guests food preferences.  If I had my own choice, I would have selected the Sliced Filet Mignon in Black Pepper Sauce, which I thought would have the big, bold flavours to balance the wine.  That being said, black bean sauce has dark, bitter flavours, that I thought may make a complimentary pairing to the Quill Red wine.  Both the wine and the dish were wonderful on their own, but the pairing was just ok.  Neither enhanced or detracted from the other.

Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir 2014 with BBQ Duck

Duck and Pinot Noir is a classic food and wine pairing.  I love how the acidity in the Pinot Noir cuts through the fattiness of the duck, and I also really enjoy the perfumed aroma and flavours of Pinot accent the richness of the duck meat.  A different twist to this dish was the spices.  To make the BBQ duck, 5 spice powder was used.  The powder consists of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds; The first 3 spices are “sweet”, which I think would go very well with Pinot Noir.  The Blue Grouse Estate Pinot Noir had a pretty nose with aromas of raspberry, red cherry, plum, nutmeg and other sweet spices.  It is dry, but fruity.  You get red and black fruits, red currant, black berry, but as well perfume, rose, sweet spices, and nutmeg on the palate.  It finished with a longer length, and firmer tannins.  A really wonderful wine. Rating: 4.5 Stars

As expected the fat just under the crispy skin of our BBQ duck, melted on my tongue, and was nicely cleaned up by the acidity in the Pinot Noir.  The 5 Spice Powder also I thought brought out a cedar component from the wine, which was not obvious as soon as I opened the bottle and poured our glasses.  A really nice pairing.  I also tried the BBQ duck with the Rose wine, and that also was quite good, with the tart red fruit of the rose, being like having roast duck with sour cherries.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully these pairings, and my comments, has given you some ideas of similar pairings you may want to try when you go out for Chinese food.  You may want to view a restaurant’s wine list online before going out for dinner, but you also have the option of bringing your own bottle(s) of wine and paying a corkage fee. There is no standardized pricing for corkage, so you need to check with the restaurant fee ahead of time.  At Sun Sui Wah, their corkage fee is $15/bottle.

If you want to buy a few bottles of Blue Grouse Estate wine, you need to order directly from the winery.  The web link to the Blue Grouse Estate Winery store.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.