We have landed our two Land of Plenty challengers from last time’s post! Sarah E and Ted S, both of Atlanta, are up to the Sichuan challenge and there is a cookbook heading their way. I’m expecting great things from them..no pressure!
In just a few weeks I’ve become much more comfortable with Sichuan ingredients and techniques, and I’m sure that will only get better. Digging into this cookbook, wandering around some funky supermarkets, and immersing yourself in this cuisine is the best way to learn on your own. What are you waiting for?
In quite timely fashion, the New York Times recently had an article discussing an attempt to pair wines with Sichuan/Chinese food, which is notoriously difficult (I guess). You may recall I drank a Spatlese Riesling with some Sichuan last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Riesling and Gewurztraminer are the oft-chosen pairings for spicy food, with the sweetness, acidity, floral nose and complex fruity flavor complementing the heat/spice well in many instances.
Though, remember that Riesling <> Sweet! The Germans, being the fun loving peeps they are (see video below), have created a friendly guide called Prädikatswein (it’s fun to say when yelling). There’s a lot more to it than I’m going to post, but here’s a summary of some terms you will often see on labels which indicate the level of ripeness at which the grape was picked, which plays into the sweetness of the wine. These terms go from sweet to dry.
Trockenbeerenauslese > Beerenauslese > Auslese > Spatlese > Kabinett > Kabinett Trocken
If you think that all Rieslings are sweet, and if you’ve only enjoyed a lower-end sweet Riesling, you may want to head on over to your local wine shop and pickup a $15-25 Spatlese and see what’s what.
The NY Times article also mentioned that though it wasn’t included in this tasting, it was thought that perhaps a sparkling wine would go well with this food. Right now I’m thinking about the sparkling Gruner that Holeman & Finch offers up. I think this attempt will have to be made real soon…stay tuned.