Hong Kong: Pairing French Wine with Chinese Cuisine

Food and Beverage

Wine maker David Serodes travels from France to China twice a year. Michael Taylor and Daniel Creffield, Editor of Asian Hotels and Catering Times, chat with him – and sample his wines – at the Mandarin Grill.

As we chat and sample his wines, I ask David, Wine Maker and Oenologue at Collovray and Terrier, which is based in Burgundy, France, how important a market Hong Kong is for his company. He grows passionate.

And I get the impression that Hong Kong’s importance has more to do with its clout as regional trend setter than how much money can actually be made here.

“It’s a sort of ‘vitrina’ for China!” David says.

We try to figure out how to put that into English.

Olympics of the Kitchen

“Hong Kong is a confluence of cultures,” David continues.

“It is a melting pot of cuisines! You have this great Chinese food, this great Japanese food, and this great European food! Everyday in Hong Kong, you have an Olympics of the Kitchen!”

David made his first trip to China five years ago. At that time, the Chinese drank wine as though it were orange juice.

“On my second trip, they were taking notes,” David says.

“The market has matured. Now some of them are speaking to me in French.”

LIMOUX ROUGE VV30,000 to 200,000 Cases

To show just how fast the Chinese market is growing, Collovray and Terrier sold 30,000 cases of wine to Chinese buyers in 2012. This year David expects that figure to grow to 200,000 cases of wine.

“In China we have to build a bridge that unites Chinese cuisine with French wine,” David says, adding that Chinese food is one of the world’s great cuisines.

With his partner in China, David blended and packaged a wine specifically created for the Chinese market to go with Chinese cuisine: Chateau Antugnac Limoux. Now that wine is being sold – with the same packaging! – in France!

But they’re not pairing it with Chinese cuisine. They are sort of  “doing their own thing” with it, pairing it with French dishes, and it is proving quite popular.

The wine has proved such a success, in fact, that David and his partner are planning to create a new blend on this trip – introducing it first to the Chinese market and then taking it back to France.

Is this the Gallic version of taking coals to New Castle?

White Wine, Anyone?

If red wines are proving increasingly popular in China (health reasons, perhaps?), white wines remain a harder sell. But Ada Leung, Sales and Marketing Director at Cottage Vineyards International Ltd, has an explanation.

Most Chinese dishes, she says, are made with soy sauce, and soy sauce and white wine simply don’t mix.

Not only that, a traditional Chinese dinner comprises at least three of the following items: a red meat dish stir fried with vegetables, a dish that contains some kind of poultry, and seafood.

Only One Bottle – Red Wine or White?

When asked if someone could only take one bottle of wine to a Chinese banquet, what wine would she recommend, Ada suggests a bright ruby red such as Pinot Noir – or, more specifically, Domaine d’Antugnax Côté Pierre Lys Haute Vallée de lÁude Pinot Noir 2010 from Languedoc, France.

“It is soy sauce loving,” Ada says.

“Not only that, it goes well with fish. When you are pairing wines with Chinese food, you have to make sure that your red doesn’t clash with the fish – otherwise the fish will taste fishy or metallic.”

OMG! Fishy or metallic? No thanks! I think I will take Ada’s advice!


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