To complement the various styles of Sichuan dishes I am going to introduce, I will recommend two wines - one red and one white. The Italian Pio Delle Venezie Pinot Noir is medium-bodied and lightly minty which can deal with the complexity of red and white meats in the spicy dishes. The Kosher Golan Moscato is a fruit-forward light sparkle white which enhances the sweetness of the deep-fried pumpkin cake. But before I get into the wine, let's continue the Sichuan Spices Excursion......
Sichuan Spices Excursion
"Ma La" chicken is a famous appetizer in Sichuan restaurants. Again, fans who read my first Sichuan Spices Excursion Part I probably remember "Ma La" is the type of spiciness that numbs your tongue and also heats up your entire mouth. It is similar to the effect of "suicidal" chili sauce on your buffalo wings. The chicken is first cooked in clear broth to retain the pale chicken color. It is then soaked in hot chili sauce and oil at least overnight to allow the favor to penetrate. Ma La chicken is best served in room temperature.
Hot oil eel in clay pot is a new style Sichuan dish. Fresh eels are de-boned and blanched in boiled water to remove the slime on the skin of the eel. It is then cooked with hot chili oil and pre-cooked vermicelli made out of green beans. Eel is a fatty fish and if it is cooked right, it is "crunchy" but not too chewy.
Curry beef with enoki mushroom stew is also a neo-Sichuan dish which is to showcase another dimension of spiciness - curry. The beef slice used in this stew is thin and semi-fatty, the typical "fatty" beef that is used in Chinese hot pot. The fat beef slice is super tender and well-flavored by the spicy curry broth. This soupy dish is best served with rice.
Contrary to pairing spicy food with a German Gewürztraminer, I recommend the Italian Pio Delle Venezie 2010 Pinot Noir.
Why THIS WINE?
Pio Delle Venezie 2010 Pinot Noir ($6-8 per glass) is lightly oaked, medium-bodied, well-structured:
- it is jammy with hints of coffee and black cherry - strong enough to deal with complex and rich food; and
- its hint of eucalyptus mint also helps cool off the spiciness.
The pumpkin dessert is crunchy and lightly sweet which goes well with a semi-sweet light-alcohol white. The Golan Moscato 2010 (a Kosher wine) ($11.99 per bottle) is a light sparkle wine with only 6% alcohol. It is fruit-forward, exhibiting ripe tangerine characters with subtler notes of peppermint and spice - a perfect wine to end a spicy meal.
Remember, life is too short not to drink wine with Chinese food!