My first time having "real" Chinese food was when I was a senior in high school. My friends took me to Panda Express. I know that this far from authentic Chinese fare, but it was the first Asian-inspired sensory experience my taste buds had ever gotten, and I was immediately in love.
Fast forward two years of living on a college campus and having Panda Express almost every day of my life, I had about enough of it. You know when you eat too much of something (you used to love) that you can't stand the thought of having any more? That happened with this chain. But I still love take-out. There's just something about all those sweet, sour, and salty flavors melding into one delicious meal.
So today I'm pairing take-out Chinese with wine. Don't get this mixed up with authentic Chinese cuisine, now. The two are very different. This post is for the sweet, fried, greasy take-out Chinese our taste buds love (even if our health does not). It can also be for homemade Chinese-take-out inspired dishes, like the ones I made for this post.
And the winning wine for this meal is....Riesling! Most wines clash with sweet and spicy flavors such as the ones we get in Chinese take-out. But an off-dry or medium-sweet Riesling is its best friend. Not only does the sweetness of Riesling match the sweetness of the food, it also calms the spice down from any sort of kung-pow chicken or hot and sour soup you may be including. I think what we love about Chinese take-out is all of the different flavors and textures we can have in one meal. Chinese food definitely is not boring. Riesling won't fight with the myriad of flavors; instead, it will cleanse your palette between each bite of deliciousness (and make you feel totally fancy).
When buying a Riesling to pair with your Chinese Take-Out, search for one that is off-dry to medium sweet. Look for "Qba", "Kabinett", or "Spatlese" on the label. Stay away from "late-harvest" or dessert-style Riesling (if it says beerenauslese, trockenbeerenauslese, or ice wine, it will be way too sweet for the meal). Do not drink dry Rieslings with Chinese food, either.
I'm totally cool with you ordering take out, sitting down in front of the TV with your honey and enjoying a bottle of Riesling. In fact, its possibly the best way to make your take-out fancy on a Friday night date-night in. But if you're in the mood to cook for a little bit, making your own Chinese take-out inspired meal will be amazing and very rewarding. For my spread, I made baked cream cheese wontons, beef and broccoli, orange chicken, hot and sour soup, and a side of white rice. The meal took me over an hour to make but it was soooooo delicious. I'm not sure Andrew and I will be ordering take out anymore...unless we are feeling lazy, of course. I'm telling you, cooking your own take-out inspired Chinese food at home is much more delicious than ordering out.
The Recipes we used: