Lifestyle: 2014/15 Hotpot Season

hotpot CortonThe winter hotpot season is upon us again. I’ve managed to cobble a few notes together on what has and hasn’t worked so far in terms of wine pairing. This is what I wrote last year and will reiterate again:

“I often get asked what wine to have with hotpot and it really depends on what hotpot you are having as there is such a diversity of soup bases and food you could have. If your soup base or food is predominantly seafood I would probably avoid a big tannic red as I find that grainy tannins tend to clash with some of the umami flavours found in seafood. Also watch for your dips, particularly if you are prone to creating your own strong soy based dips with fried and fresh garlic and XO sauce, as is often supplied in Hong Kong. That can easily overwhelm a fresh delicate white.”

If you are having a heavy base such as tom yum, satay or Szechuan ma-la, I’d probably just avoid wine for the evening. There are plenty of good sakes and refreshing beers to keep merry company, or even a cooling plum drink or sugarcane juice.

A few brief notes below : all based on Japanese-style shabu shabu hotpot with light soup base, fresh beef, pork and variety of fresh seafood and vegetables.

Jacques Selosse “Initial” Brut Champagne NV : this is an excellent grand cru blanc de blanc. Lovely gold-ish colour, delicate mousse, rich in the mouth. Lemons, peaches, apple. Firm body with good acidity holds up as precursor and also over the course of a meal.

Vincent Giradin Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2010 : no, it is not heresy to serve a grand cru white burg with hotpot. The substantial body of this grand cru white burg, creamy in the mouth, lovely citrus supplemented by well-integrated soft oak pairs well with fresh thin-sliced beef, pork and snapper fish- provided you don’t kill it with the soup base (see above) or too much soy/chillis/sriracha etc. In fact, this was the wine of that evening.

Tasmanian Pinot Noir : this was blinded on me and no bottle revealed so I don’t have details of producer etc. but this is a good choice as Tasmania is becoming known for refreshing cool climate Pinots with pleasant fruit yet not as jammy as you encounter on mainland Aus.

Bordeaux red 2nd wines 2009: there are a few Bordeaux 2nd wines (not to be confused with 2nd Growth) are retailing in the $200+ price category in Hong Kong- from Lascombes, Haut Bailley, Smith Haut Laffite, and are excellent way to access the 2009 stunning vintage. Ready to drink, packed with fruit, and relatively affordable. They would go well with meatier hotpots.

Paolo Cordero Barolo Annata 1974:  not a good one with hotpot. Old+Barolo= massive tannins, big oak, little fruit. Too big for the food. We drank for other reasons.