Both dry and fortified sweet wines from Roussillon balance the savory, spicy flavors of Asian cuisines, including Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and beyond.
New York, NY, November 2018 – Roussillon’s wide range of wines – dry, white, red, rosé and fortified sweet, all made in varying styles – makes it one of the most versatile regions for wine and food pairing. But sometimes it’s interesting to step outside of the box, to travel halfway around the world to experiment with pairings. Though it may seem unusual, Roussillon wines are a perfect match for Asian dishes, finding the perfect balance between unctuosity, fleshiness, sweet and savory.
The Roussillon region, located on the southern coast of France in the eastern Pyrenees department, is famous for producing both dry, still wines and sweet, fortified wines. But while the sub-regions of Roussillon, bordered by mountain ranges on three sides, all benefit from plentiful sunshine and gusting wind, there are marked differences in specific soils and mesoclimates, creating a wide range of powerful and well-balanced wines.
While Asian cuisine is wide-ranging in and of itself, from the rich, savory meats of Chinese cuisine to the lingering spice of Korean dishes, it is primarily known for its umami, spiciness, and incorporation of sweet elements. This makes the sweet, fortified Vins Doux Naturels wines of Roussillon (which account for 80 percent of the country’s fortified sweet wines), natural pairings for Asian cuisine. The richness, roundness, and sweetness of the wines cool that intense spiciness while simultaneously complementing any sweet elements in the dish. Dry Roussillon wines, too, can match well with exceptionally savory Asian dishes, the complexity of fruit, floral, and spice aromas and flavors balancing out that salty umami taste.
Though there are numerous combinations of Asian dishes and Roussillon wines, here are a few in particular that will have eyes opening and mouths watering.
• Sweet and sour chicken with Muscat de Rivesaltes: The wine’s youthful fruit flavors will match the dish’s signature sauce without overwhelming the chicken.
• Yakitori with Maury Sec: A traditional Japanese method of cooking skewered chicken or meat over charcoal, yakitori matches well with the red wine’s concentrated flavors with accents of herbs and earth.
• Bibimbap with Côtes du Roussillon Red: Fresh, fruity, and versatile, this red blend will calm the spice of this Korean rice dish’s classic chili pepper paste while maintaining its subtlety.
• Sushi with Collioure Blanc: Made from Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris, Collioure’s white wines are lively enough to match with raw fish, yet rich and nuanced enough to fit with sticky sushi rice and touch of wasabi.
• Spicy Sichuan hot pot with Rivesaltes Ambré: A dish meant for sharing, the many meats and vegetables dipped into a hot pot will work well with Rivesaltes Ambré’s complex, spiced flavors, while the wine’s sugar will temper some of the spicy burn.
Whether you’re prepping for Chinese New Year or simply planning a smorgasbord of Asian dishes, Roussillon wines should be on the menu in order to achieve the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory.