Sichuan cuisine is famous for its generous use of chili. Sichuan peppercorns give this dish another, vibrantly fiery dimension. If the meat is marinated in soy sauce before frying, the umami flavour is enhanced. The wine should be able to stand up to the intensely hot spice.
Pairs well with
- Reserve-category Zweigelt or Sankt Laurent with a skilful use of wood work less through force than by finesse, if they come from good vineyards. They add lightness & playful elegance to moderately hot chili dishes: an unusual but inspiring combination.
- Blaufränkisch matured in large or small cask and Blaufränkisch-based cuvées are robust enough to support the fire and intensity of this dish. They provide interesting accents with their own acidity & moderately bitter elements; their assertive fruit rounds off the fire & tantalises the palate.
- A powerful Cabernet, a Merlot or a cuvée made from them will show complex aromas & pronounced tannins; they can provide the spice with an exciting counterbalance when they are ripe & mellow. Cabernet Sauvignon is also characterised by intense redcurrant fruit, which can hold its own even with generous amount of chili.
- The heat of chili makes mating it with white wines very difficult, but not impossible. Robust, slightly aged whites with well-integrated acidity make for an exciting combination; try Grüner Veltliner at Reserve or Smaragd level. Caution is advised in case of high acidity in the wine!