Perfect Wine Match
When pairing wine with food, it helps to think in terms of regional affinities. Having paella? Drink a Spanish wine. Steak au poivre? A hearty French red. But what about a Chinese dish? After all, they don't traditionally drink wine in China. But after pouring a range of wines at a meal for my Chinese friends, I found a clear favorite: Gewürztraminer. Its natural richness and unctuous texture stood up to the spices in Asian dishes, while its low alcohol and sweet fruit helped to balance powerful flavors. (A big California Chardonnay, by contrast, tasted clumsy, its alcohol and oak amplified by the spices; while a Sauvignon Blanc's crisp citrus flavors were overwhelmed by ingredients like star anise and soy sauce.)
The best Gewürztraminers come from Alsace, in France, notably from producers like Hugel, whose 2000 ($20) boasts an explosively floral aroma backed by melon and mineral flavors. In this country, Washington State is the best address for good Gewürz; Hogue's 2000 is of particular note. With creamy flavors and aromas of rose petals and grapefruit, it's a steal at $8 a bottle.