Raise a glass or two to Lunar Year of the Monkey

Fun-loving and vivacious Rose to celebrate Lunar New Year

Words: Henry Yuen

Chinese New Year is all about celebration - celebrating special moments,  accomplishments and the cheers of past year. It's also about future prospective and achievement - staying healthy and strong, be earnest and hardworking, be hopeful and positively. Most importantly, It’s the time to get together families and friends, and be thankful to those close to our daily lives.

What we eat during Chinese New Year is delicious tradition and food culture. When precious dry goods such as dried oyster, dried scallops and top grade mushrooms are key ingredients of the celebrative meals, rich and savoury dinners become extra delectable and filled with auspicious symbols. And anything with golden and reddish tones are ideal decorative colours.

Photo caption: Braised dried oysters and mushrooms with hairy moss on a bed of green - a Lunar New Year must-have dish symbolizing prosperity and fortune.

As usual, it is my duty and my pleasure to select wines to enhance the dining pleasure. With a variety of Chinese New Year dishes, arrays of fresh greens, preserved meats and vegetables, poultry, meats and seafood; from cold plates, soup, steamed morsels to stirred or fried items; from light and refreshing to rich and drenched in sauces. what wines to serve?

No one argues that a wine with good acidity and crispiness is a great start to liven up the mood and the palate which also tunes in nicely with most cold and hot appetizers. Sparkling will always be my first suggestion. A glass of Champagne will certainly be well-received and luxurious to have, but do not let a few snobby 'nothing but Champagne' elities fool you, champagne is only one of the many good bubbles of the world. The good news is, the range of choices to fit the budget are not skimpy at all. Pop open our very own BC sparkling wines which are delightful substitutes: Summerhill Cipes Brut, Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Brut, Haywire the Bub and See Ya Later Ranch Brut, just to name a few. For those who prefer a bit of sweetness and wallet-easy bubbles, there is Prosecco from Italy.

Photo caption: BC Bubbles - perfect New Year cheer.

If bubbly is not your cup of tea, why not go with Rosé? French? What about Domaine Hauchart, a Provence Rosé? BC wine fans will find Joie Farm Rosé, the Girls Vivacious RoséRose, The Blue Grouse Rosé, the Quails’ Gate Roséand the Spierhead Rosé all desirable with enticing aroma and full-on flavour. And the pinkish to ruby red hue  definitely goes with the Chinese new year colour scheme.

Photo caption

For white meat dishes, be it poultry or seafood, the logical pairing choice of white any goes wrong. While the lighter, crispiness and citrus aroma Pinot Gris would match most dishes; Chardonnay with gentle and balanced oak treatment provides the perfect touch to dishes laden with herbs and spices. Haywire Pinot Gris, Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris or the Gray Monk Pinot Gris are good selections for the dining table. When it comes to Chardonnay, the choice is limitless. While I prefer my Chardonnay with a bit of oak, quite a good line-up of BC Chardonnay fits the profile. The Time Winery Chardonnay, Burrowing Owl Chardonnay and Cedar Creek Chardonnay are excellent selections to complement white meat and seafood dishes, even when served with different condiments. Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are also good choices as are other aromatics such as Gewurztraminer. New World whites from South America usually offer good value for the money as are whites from Australia and New Zealand.

For hearty meat dishes such as braised ribs and stewing dishes, red wines of medium to full-bodied are the order of the day to tame the richness. Varietals such as Shiraz, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon are no doubt popular choices but I find BC Merlot and Cabernet Franc in general are well-crafted too. Pick from any of the following: Tinhorn Creek, Hester Creek, Poplar Grove and I can guarantee your approval.

Photo caption: Merlot for hearty meat dishes.

There is no shortage of red blends for consideration at the liquor store, no matter if you opt for familiar wines or go adventurous. Trying something new or seeking out those hard to find wines, however, is always exhilarating. Getting helpful tips from the staff by simply telling them your budget and preference; even what'll be served for dinner would make life a lot easier. If time permits, order on-line directly from the winery would give you specialty wines, perhaps trophy and collector bottles not available to the public.

Going for big reds? Black Sage Merlot,  Hester Creek The Judge, Mission HIll Oculus... just a few of worth tasting choices. Of course, from Napa and Sonoma, there is no shortage of intense and rich Cabernet Sauvignon. For those specialty dinners, digging out a bottle or two of Bordeaux will delight the crowd but make sure you have enough to go around to avoid disappointment.

Following the successful launch of the Lunar New Year of the Sheep wines last year, Haywire Winery in Summerland again has crafted a couple of wines for the upcoming occasion. A Red and White Chinese New Year of the Ram wines have just been released. Both are delicious wines for the dinner table and wonderful gifts for any occasion.    

Cheers everyone and 'Kung Hey Fat Choy'!