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February 28, 2010

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Perfect wine options for classic duck dish

PEKING Roasted Duck is one of the shining glories of Chinese cuisine. Few dishes attract such universal acclaim and passion from both Chinese gourmets and Western connoisseurs.

When selecting a dish for a mixture of different people with discerning palates, I often choose Peking Roasted Duck. The combinations of quality ingredients, expert preparation and presentation, and delicious flavors and texture in this historic Chinese dish never fail to impress.

The first written accounts of this meal date back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when it was mentioned as one of the imperial dishes. In the 14th and 15th centuries, it was prepared in a charcoal oven and stuffed with sheep innards and scallions.

Over the ensuing centuries the dish was prepared in different styles until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when it evolved into its modern form. Like many classic dishes from around the world, this process has been refined over a very long period of time until it nears perfection.

So how do we pair this classic Chinese dish with wine?

Unlike most of the famous European dishes, Peking Roasted Duck didn't evolve alongside regional styles of wine so picking the right one isn't easy.

In my opinion, there are two equally satisfying, yet very different solutions.

One ideal partner is a predominantly pinot noir Champagne like Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label.

The slightly greasy nature of the duck and the sweet flavor of the plum sauce match perfectly with the Champagne's sophisticated yellow and red fruit flavors, while the fine bubbles and acidity of the wine cleanse the mouth and make every subsequent bite even more delicious.


A lower cost alternative that's still delicious is the Caves de Bailly, Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvee du Siecle Brut Reserve, a sparkling wine from Burgundy that's about half the price of Champagne but still has the generous fruit and acidity to match with Peking Roasted Duck.

In fact, any quality dry sparkling wine will make a nice partner.

Another wine that partners beautifully with this dish is a Spanish tempranillo red wine.

The tempranillo grape makes aromatic wines with generous dark fruit flavors, hints of tobacco and soft tannins that elegantly highlight the richness of the roasted duck meat and skin while not clashing with the other components of the dish.

The gentle tannins of the tempranillo wine facilitate digestion of the meat, skin and pancake leaving the mouth with a lovely combination of Eastern and Western aromas.

Mainly tempranillo wines like the classic Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva from Rioja and the robust new tempranillo stars from the Toro region like the Telmo Rodriguez, Gago Cosecha are sure to bring your Peking Roasted Duck experience to new gastronomic heights.


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