Wines with fried rice – Styles to consider:
My family’s favourite fried rice recipe involves soy sauce, minced pork, and crunchy, finely sliced cabbage.
When this hearty and flavoursome meal sits on the table, you know you don’t need any other dish to go with it – it’s all in there.
My version involves some cooking with wine – just add a splash of bone-dry, young Riesling, at the very end, when you are about to turn off the fire, and let the white blossom and sweet peach scents rise generously from the wok.
The rest of the bottle? Drink it with the fried rice, of course.
The grease in rice and soya saltiness pair nicely with the crisp acidity, and ginger seasoned minced pork won’t over power a delicate white. The complex floral and stone-fruity aromas add a flare to every satisfying bite.
You can even risk a bit of residual sugar in the Riesling, if you enjoy a salty-and-sweet combination. The same rule applies to those soya flavoured ‘special fried rice’ from Chinese takeaways.
If you don’t want too much cooking and are happy to settle with a bowl of egg fried rice, only seasoned with a pinch of salt, then look for a fruity white such as Pinot Gris or a round and ripe Chardonnay.
Egg can be notoriously difficult to pair with wines, but a previous Decanter article suggested trying Viognier, which has the richness of flavour and depth of texture to work with a variety of foods.
Appreciate the natural fragrance and texture of the rice, savour the touch of sweetness when it hits your tongue, and then take a sip to refresh.
Unless you add plenty of salt to expand the spectrum of the flavour, watch out for too much acidity, which may kill the interplay of starch and saliva.
Those who like a bit of extra heat from spices in their fried rice have a few options. Off-dry Riesling can add a touch of sweetness to round off the heat.
Wine expert and restaurant critic Fiona Beckett suggested pairing a bold, off-dry rosé with dishes containing Sichuan spice, in an article for Decanter in 2017.
Anne Krebiehl MW previously told Decanter that she loves Pinot Noir with Chinese five spice. ‘I am a big fan of Chinese five spice, with its warm redolence of clove and cinnamon. Rounder, gutsier Pinot Noirs that border on plummy fruitiness.’
Alternatively, some people may like to fight fire with fire by choosing a bold red with a bit of spice, such as an Australian Shiraz, to meet chilli heat head-on.
Speaking of robust reds, if that’s your thing, then another of my favourite dishes fits more into the flavoured rice category, rather than fried rice.
If you’re after a powerhouse rice dish then look no further than Cantonese claypot rice, best when topped with slices of cured pork belly.
A ripe and concentrated Australian Shiraz, a classic New World Cabernet or an Amarone go hand-in-hand with the oily and sweet soya flavoured rice, although try to find a wine where the tannins have been well-integrated – otherwise you may lose the taste of the dish.
Sylvia Wu is editor of our sister site DecanterChina.com. Editing by Chris Mercer.