Penfolds wine pairing dinner


Is it actually possible to pair Chinese cuisine with wines? I have been invited to several Hennesy dinners that pairs the flavorful Chinese dishes to the Hennesy cognac. And I must say that my taste buds have been very open to this new twist. I have had several dinners at the Summer Palace of Makati Shangri-La hotel where Hennesy cognac opened up the possibilities.

But wine? Penfolds, the Australian wine making company, took the bold step in inviting gourmands and just plain excitable foodies to a night of Chinese wine pairing dinners at no less than the epicenter of the Chinese community in Manila. The dinner was held in Chinatown, at the Royal Sharksfin Seafood Restaurant.

Penfolds happen to be one of the oldest wine brands from Australia. Penfolds was founded by a young English doctor who migrated to one of his country’s most distant colonies over a century and a half ago.

Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold was born in 1811, the youngest of 11 children. He studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, graduating in 1838.

According to Penfold’s company site, “In 1844, Dr Penfold and his wife Mary purchased the Mackgill estate, comprising 500 acres of the choicest land.”

By all accounts it was Mary Penfold who was responsible for the management and early winemaking responsibilities of the fledgling wine estate.

Initially the wines – made from grenache – were prescribed as tonic wines for anaemic patients and the famous Penfolds slogan ‘1844 to evermore’ harks back to its origins as a prescribed tonic.

In 2002 veteran oenologist Peter Gago became Chief Winemaker and since that time Penfolds has reached into every major wine market in the world.

Gago was born in Newcastle, England and in 2005 was named Winemaker of the Year. Penfolds wines are now widely celebrated for their diversity and quality across many price-points. With Penfolds, having a glass of vino need not break the bank. The strength of Penfolds is that the wine comes first.” Penfolds’ range of table wines is utterly Australian, and each wine is a product of the lush Australian landscape.

For the dinner, starter was a Hong Kong lechon barbecued honey pork, a staple in many Chinese restaurants as an appetizer and that night, it was partnered with Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2011. A dish of prawn in wintermelon box paired with Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2011 was up next. And the expensive Abalone with goose web and lemon chicken were both served with Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz 2012.

One of my favorite all time Chinese dish, the Salt and pepper spareribs, was served with Penfolds Bin 138 GSM 2011. Another meat dish as an entrée, the Pan-seared Angus prime beef cubes, was paired with Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2010. Fujian fried rice was the finale dish and the mango pudding was served for dessert.

The verdict? Can Chinese food be paired with wines? The resounding answer is, Yes!

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