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What to drink with Chinese food?

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Spicy, rich in flavor and boasts unique texture, Chinese cuisine features endless tastes to explore. As a result, sometimes beverage pairings with Chinese cuisine are as tricky as determining what to eat with Chinese food for the best dining experience.

Beverage selection can make or break the dish. It may appear that wine or cocktails might be questionable to consume with Chinese food, but you will enjoy Chinese food and fully appreciating the flavor with the right pairing. 

What to drink with Chinese food? Generally speaking, Chinese food goes really well with beer. Ales, lagers, pilsners, and wheat beers are the best choice for pairing with the cuisine.

Chinese food also tastes wonderful with German Riesling. The high acidity and dryness of the wine balances well with the bold flavored and spicy dishes with a hint of apples, apricot, peaches, and pears balance the meal.

When serving stir-fried dishes, white wine such as Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay are the ultimate choice. For meat dishes, consider Beaujolais or Pinot Noir from California. 

When selecting alcohol to pair with spicy Chinese food, look for the sweetness in the wine. If the dish is sweeter than the spicy side, go with Riesling.

Pairing drinks and Asian food is not an easy task. The diverse flavor range and textures make it quite difficult to make accurate decisions.

From Dim Sum to fried rice, there are many dishes that do not fit with a singular kind of wine. 

So, what wine, beer, or non-alcoholic beverage is perfect for Chinese food? This article answers the frequently asked questions about what to drink with Chinese food so you are not left spinning your wheels. 

What goes better with Chinese food, beer or wine?

Beer is the perfect choice for Chinese dishes compared to wine. Most Chinese foods has bold flavors of chili, ginger, and soy sauce, and not many white or red wines can match up to the crazy spiciness of these foods. 

With shrimp dim sum, pork dumplings and spring rolls, the refreshing flavor, light body and silky smoothness of a sweet and sour wheat beer, white beer, weissbiers and witbiers are the best selection. 

On the other hand, Carlsberg, White Rhino Indian pale ale, and Pilsner are also great beer choices to pair with Chinese food. 

When serving glazed ribs, beef in black bean sauce or duck with hoisin sauce, try brown ales or Belgian triple beers.

What kind of wine goes well with Chinese food?

When it comes to selecting whether red or white wine pairs better for Chinese food, it all depends on the ingredients of the meal and main course. 

Red wine generally pairs best with boldly flavored meats, and white wines with fish and chicken. Additionally, match the wine to sauces instead of only focusing on the meat.

Here are type of wine to pair with specific Chinese foods:

  • Egg rolls & fried dumplings: Franciacorta
  • Crab Rangoon: Vinho Verde
  • Fried Rice: Lambrusco, Riesling, Chenin Blanc
  • Kung Pao Chicken: Pino Gris
  • Chow Mein: Pet Nat, Sauvignon Blanc
  • Tso’s Chicken: Rkatsiteli, Gamay
  • Spare ribs: Grenache
  • Sweet and sour chicken: Moscato
  • Sichuan-flavored dishes: Rosé, Pinot Noir, Prosecco
  • Dim sum: Champagne, Cava, Prosecco
  • Lo mein: sauvignon blanc, Gruner veltliner, sparkling wine
  • Peking duck: Chenin blanc, dry Riesling
  • Ma po tofu: Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Lambrusco
  • Beef and broccoli: Merlot, Grenache

If you love red wines, don’t select the darkest one on the shelf, lighter reds are preferred instead. Light red varieties such as Beaujolais or pinot noir can handle the spiciness in Chinese food without overwhelming the dish. 

Bubbles and sweet wines help ease the burn, and tone down the complex flavors. In this case, an off-dry rose or prosecco is perfect. 

For veggies, protein, or carbohydrate foods, a high-acidity Chenin blanc, Riesling, or other sparkling wine. 

Last but not least, pair sweet and sour foods with aromatic wines. A Gewurztraminers is an excellent choice, but so are other wines with high acidity and a touch of sweetness. 

What beer to drink with Chinese food?

Beer is another wonderful alcoholic beverage to pair with Chinese food other than red or white wine. For instance, dim sum, dumpling, and spring rolls are

perfect light appetizers to enjoy with glass of ice cold beer. 

The deep rich flavor with refreshing and light bubbly beverage complements well with sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. 

  • Carlsberg
  • Indian Pale Ale
  • pilsner
  • saison
  • white ale
  • red ale
  • wheat beer
  • Thai Singha Lager

A glass of Carlsberg smooth, light lager beer is perfect with medium to spicy Chinese dishes. If you have Desi Chinese noodles in Szechuan sauce, accompany it with some Indian pale ale as the citrusy beer is an ideal companion for both spicy or savory dishes. 

Pilsner pairs perfectly with a spicy rub. This beer is exactly what your extra-spicy noodles need to be complete, and pair them with light wheat beers such as Bira 91 white for seafood. 

Try a strong malt drink such as kingfisher to amplify the spicy accompaniments of a spicy side dish.

Non-alcoholic drinks that go with Chinese food

Though Chinese food is renowned for being all about hot tea served with meals of all kinds, there are a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks to pair with Chinese cuisine. 

Here is a list of non-alcoholic beverages that are perfect to serve with Chinese cuisine:

  • Yunnan coffee
  • Suan Mei Zhi
  • cheese tea
  • milk tea
  • white tea
  • Wang Lao Ji
  • oolong 
  • kombucha
  • Keemun Black tea
  • Biluochun
  • Longjing tea
  • Pu Erh
  • green tea
What to drink with Chinese food

Drinks with Chinese Cuisine: Conclusion

Pairing the right beverage on the side of Chinese food adds to an enjoyable meal experience. It helps to calm down spicy, sweet, and sour flavors, and gives a fun way to experience texture in every bite.

Chinese food goes well with sparkling or white wines such as Riesling, which gives acidity and dryness to complement the complex flavor. 

If you are wine connoisseur, use the guide above to pair your favorite Chinese food from egg roll to beef and broccoli.

When serving stir-fried food, pair with white wine, and meat dishes are better paired with red wine. The rule of thumb is to choose beverage based on sweetness of the drink and spiciness of meal.

Even though wine is widely known, beer is actually better with Chinese food. Generally, wheat beers, Carlsberg, Indian Pale Ale, and Pilsner are highly recommended with any spicy Chinese cuisine. 

For non-alcohol drinker, consider black tea, Pu Erh, milk tea, white tea and oolong tea. These calming beverages will help to ease the spiciness of Chinese food in every bite. 

Each of our tastebuds are different. The more we experiment, the better chance we will know precisely what works best for us. 

Test the wines, beers, and non-alcoholic drinks listed above so that you find the drink pairing with Chinese cuisine that works best for you. Good luck!

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