Sonoma: An enchanted encounter

It may keep a lower profile than neighbouring Napa, but Denis Lin is enthralled by the dramatic scenery of Sonoma, and the distinctive complexity of its wines, on his first visit to this coastal paradise...

Sonoma wines with Asian food

Sonoma wines with Asian food

Sonoma wines tend to be clean and fresh with bright fruitiness. They are balanced on the palate without austere tannins or astringent acidity, making them very food friendly.

Many Asian appetisers go well with sparkling wines, for instance, tempura, deep-fried oysters and spring rolls. The attack of bubbles mixed with crunchy raw vegetables or deep-fried foods creates an interesting sensation, and the high acidity of sparkling wines cleanses the palate.

Dry whites are especially versatile with Asian food. Sashimi, green papaya salad, marinated jellyfish and steamed chicken, for example, are light on the palate. For such delicate flavours, I suggest a crisp, light Sauvignon Blanc. For dishes with fuller flavour and richer sauces, the best match is often a slightly oak-aged Chardonnay. My favourite Asian dishes to pair with Sonoma Chardonnays include pineapple shrimp balls, steamed buns stuffed with minced crabmeat, and Thai chicken curry made with coconut milk.

For meats with a delicate texture served with mild sauces, choose Pinot Noir. Many feel that it is the best match for Peking duck, and pan-fried fish and simmered beef shank also work well. For dishes with full flavours and some sweetness, Zinfandel is often the first choice. Its weight and fruitiness can take on the challenge of sweet and sour fish or honey-stewed barbecue pork. Bearing in mind that Asian dishes are usually served all together, it can be better to look for versatile wines rather than a precise match for each dish.

Sparkling connections

onoma County also produces some excellent sparkling wines, including those made by Judy Jordan at J Vineyards & Winery in Russian River Valley. ‘Each one of our nine estateowned vineyards has a unique personality,’ says winemaker Melissa Stackhouse. ‘We are digging deep into the soil to better understand and encourage the right expression of flavour for each estate vineyard.’ Another producer, Iron Horse, is located in Green Valley, the coolest, foggiest part of the Russian River Valley. Acclaimed ‘The Wine of Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens… and the Pope,’ Iron Horse’s sparkling wine has been served in the White House during five consecutive presidential administrations.

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