Sweet and sour wines for sweet and sour meals

Chinese takeaway signReceived wisdom says the naturally sweet-sour flavours of German white wines work best with Chinese food. Which helps with the food-wine matching for this evening’s celebration of the Chinese New Year, but really any wine you like will match, but a bit of sweetness helps.

Wombarra roseThe slightly sweet strawberry and milk chocolate flavours of Wombarra’s Shiraz rosé (Co-op £5.99) balance the stodgy rice, batter and bean ingredients common in Oriental dishes, while its redcurrant edge just stops this wine-food combination from becoming too rich and sickly. The one thing this wine does lack is aroma, there is a vague hint of cherry cough drops but it's so slight you may miss it.  You can't say the same is true of German wines though.

Open any bottle of German Riesling, Müller-Thurgau or Gewürztraminer (literally the 'spicy traminer') and your nose is assaulted with honey, elderflower, pineapple and Cheshire cheese aromas. Overpowering for many, such a complex mix can easily swamp the delicate scents of lighter vegetarian Chinese dishes. For these a better choice is wine made from the Pinot grape.

Pinot Noir is grown in Germany but their typically chilly summers don't allow this red grape to ripen properly, but lighter-skinned Pinots need less sun to ripen and so do well. The nutty, almost champagne-like, flavours of German Pinot Grigio (Primus £6.29 Waitrose, d:Vine Asda £5.48) suit chow mein and braised vegetable meal combinations as well as smoked fish recipes and quiches.

PG Wine Tips for Chinese Food

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Les Crouzes French Colombard 2010

£5.39 Co-op

Light grapefruit, melon and peach flavours. Great for chicken stir fries without too much chilli.

Wombarra Australian Shiraz Rosé

£5.99 Co-op

A light red-coloured and lightly flavoured rosé: sweet strawberry, redcurrant and milk chocolate.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

Asda Extra Special South African Chenin Blanc 2010

£6.97 Asda

An oomphy aromatic white with banana, melon and apple flavours. Match to sweet and sour dishes or chow mein.

Asda Extra Special French Viognier 2010

£6.97 Asda

Almost like a perry with its Brazil nut and pear flavours. Refreshing.

Turning Leaf Californian Pinot Grigio 2010

£7.46 Sainsbury’s

Tastes like the syrup from a tin of pineapple chunks.

Turning Leaf Californian Pinot Noir 2009

£7.79 Waitrose

A red Pinot this time and quite a Marmitey tasting one - plus cherry, raspberry, redcurrant and cocoa. Match to beef dishes.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk