Chinese Take Out & Wine Pairings

Did you know...

  • Thanks to recent taxes on disposable chopsticks in China, only 45 billion pairs of chopsticks/year are used by people in China. That’s only 2-3 pair per person per month!
  • Traditionally knives and forks, which are considered weapons, were not allowed at the tables in China.
  • Soup comes at the end of the traditional Chinese meal.
  • In China, whisky is a favorite beverage to pair with the food.
  • The more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants outnumber MacDonald’s 3 to 1 in the US, most all of them family owned and staffed by immigrants who often make about $2,000 a month.
  • Chinese restaurants have been a part of the American eating scene since the 1800s.

Yes, Chinese Takeout has been part of American culture, from the busy hole-in-the-wall “chow-chows” that popped up in San Francisco to feed the 30,000 Chinese laborers who migrated to California in the 19th century to build railroads and work the gold mines to the Chinese takeout shops found now in every big city neighborhood and remote small town in the U.S.

Kids love Chinese takeout; college students live on it! The familiar folded white cartons are a common sight in many a romantic moment in the movies. From shop to shop, the menus look exactly alike and the offering is pretty much the same. Almost any pick up in any Chinese shop is a déjà vu moment.

The offering is not exactly authentic Chinese cuisine. It’s fusion cuisine, Chinese American, adapted over many decades to what was locally available or to the tastes of the other many cultures that are our heritage. A lot of what we take to be traditional Chinese dishes were invented in the US from Chop Suey to the Fortune Cookies that finish the meal.

Chinese American take out is so loved and so ubiquitous that you can now find dozens of dishes in the frozen food section of your local grocery store or in shelf stable versions just waiting to be opened and heated. Or you can grab your favorite Chinese dish ready to go home from the deli department.

Chinese Beer is great for washing down the many flavors of the food, and tea of course. In China, Coca Cola or even whiskey are popular with Chinese food, but there are good wine alternatives.

Many light off-dry to semi sweet wines, chilled, and even lightly spritzy work well. The sweeter the food, the sweeter the wine you need.

The stickier dishes, the sweet and sour or sesame chicken are the perfect takeout orders for the many Moscato lovers out there.  TRY Salt of the Earth Moscato from California. The white version is the traditional version, soft and sweet but also light and refreshing. There is a red version as well, which is a great pairing with sweet and sour pork, or a spicy Mongolian Beef.

Super spicy dishes, General Tso’s or the other ones marked in the menu with the tiny red, hot-looking peppers, also need sweet and light and chillable.  TRY the amazing new, award winning St Julian “On the Town” Lake Michigan Shore Sweet White. This was one of the most popular wines at last week’s Food, Wine, and All that Jazz event in Grand Rapids and is now available at our Online Wine and Beer Sale Catalog. Or TRY the top selling Michigan wine, Chateau Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling, smooth and medium sweet, with a hint of acidity to preserve its freshness.

Vegetable Lo Mein, one of the top selling takeout orders, fried rice, or other vegetable laden dishes pair nicely with a drier Riesling or with a medium dry Rosé or even a Sauvignon Blanc, but you want to make sure it is Sauv Blanc that leans to the fruitier flavor profile. Or you could go for a chilled bottle medium dry sparkling.  TRY the just released sparkling wines from Dark Horse Wines, a white or a rosé. These are good bets for soy heavy, salty dishes too.

Peking Duck, possibly the most beloved of Chinese restaurant fare, all glistening and delicious with its soy glaze, can take a red wine, a soft, smooth Pinot Noir, for example. TRY this lovely sleeper from California: Decoy Pinot Noir with Peking Duck.

Check out these selections, all available for 20-40% discounts on the extensive Online Wine and Beer Sale or visit your D&W Fresh Market Wine Steward for great wine and beer pairing suggestions and cellar consultations.


Roz Mayberry

About Roz:
During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.

Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.