Just like any other Chinese festival, Golden Week and National Day have a range of delicious to interesting snacks and dishes associated with them.
And while it might be traditional to enjoy all those treats with 50 proof baijiu, there’s no reason not to indulge in a little cultural exchange and try to get inventive with some wine pairings. Of course, we’re here to help.
This is the big one. Good luck getting through the holidays without getting through at least one; someone is going to give you a box. They run the gamut from savory cakes with egg yolks inside to sweet, fruity numbers and the most common variety filled with red bean paste. Some of them are good, some of them not so much, but they’re definitely worth exploring.
Pair them with: Champagne
It seems almost too convenient that the festivals definitive celebration food would pair with the ultimate celebration wine… but sometimes the universe just makes sense. If you’re going for rich, decadent moon cakes, (and why wouldn’t you be), sturdy champagne will complement their heft and match their sweetness nicely.
There are many parts of lotus and ways of cooking that are popular all year round in China, but the fact that they are harvested around this time of year has made them synonymous with Golden Week in some parts of the country. Our personal favorite method of preparation, native to China’s south, is known as nuò mī ōu; steamed lotus root stuffed with sticky glutinous rice and covered in flowery osmanthus syrup.
Pair it with: Prosecco
This is tricky. Lotus can be prepared in myriad ways and often has a unique, earthy flavor. If we stick to the sweet treat detailed above, though, we would recommend a Prosecco; light and sharp enough to cut through dense, sticky honey and glutinous rice but also sweet enough to complement it.
Staying in south China for the time being, (including Shanghai), crab has also come to dominate Golden Week dining, particularly mitten, (or hairy), crabs. There is probably an ancient, mystic explanation for this, but the reality might just be good timing; fall is the time of year that the crab’s prized and apparently delicious roe matures.
Pair it with: Chardonnay/Riesling
When it comes to wine pairing, crab is a little more complicated than other seafood. A good rule to follow is to pair it with a clear, crisp Riesling if you’re enjoying it relatively unseasoned or chilled. If you’re eating it with rich, buttery seasoning you’ll want a big, bold Chardonnay.
Up north, where the cuisine is sturdier and less delicate, a different snack is traditionally eaten around this time of year; dates. They are eaten dried, and though they might not blow you away on first bite, stick with them. Their singular, earthy sweetness can actually get pretty addictive.
Pair them with: Chianti
Dates flavors are extremely subtle, and their fruity hints are easily overwhelmed, making the equally light and fruity Chianti an ideal choice for pairing. This also works if you aim for Westernizing your date intake and serving them on a board alongside some cheese… which we wholeheartedly recommend.
And there you have! Should at least start a few conversations around the Golden Week dinner table.