Twenty-thirteen was the first year that Haywire Winery, located in Summerland, British Columbia, released their annual Lunar New Year wines. Haywire wines are made at Okanagan Crush Pad run by the lovely Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie. As Whitney Law (of Okanagan Crush Pad) communicated, these special wines were “made in celebration of the Lunar New Year and to welcome the Year of the Sheep”. Whitney Law also mentioned that these limited case production wines were crafted, at the heart of things, to complement the “vibrant Asian food scene in Vancouver”.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked when talking about food and wine pairings with people, revolves around pairing wine with east Asian cuisines. Undoubtedly, with all the various spices in Asian cuisine, that, when drinking a glass of vino can cause chemesthesis to occur, it is no wonder why many people avoid enjoying a vino-based libation when consuming such foods. Often, people lean toward Gewurztraminer as the go-to wine choice as a result of its lower alcohol content and fuller body, but I am here to say that these are not your only choices. Page 6 of Haywire’s 22-page booklet called “Pairing Asian Flavours with Wine”, says:
Statistics tell us more and more Asians in Vancouver appreciate the pleasure a bottle of wine brings forth. Nevertheless, it has been said many times pairing Asian cuisine with wine is never easy. Vast climatic, geographic and regional differences; [and] special diets due to religion, culture and customs; all contribute to Asians’ culinary style variations. The complexity of flavour in most Asian dishes due to the spectrum of ingredients, sauces, seasonings, herbs and spices used and the cooking techniques applied, [makes] picking the right wine to pair with the meal […] a challenge to many.
The Lunar New Year and the Year of the Sheep
According to www.history.com, the Lunar New Year was:
…born out of fear and myth. Legend spoke of the wild beast Nien (which also is the word for “year”) that appeared at the end of each year, attacking and killing villagers. Loud noises and bright lights were used to scare the beast away, and the Chinese New Year celebrations were born. Today, the 15-day New Year festivities are celebrated with a week of vacation in metropolitan areas of China. Much like the Western New Year (January 1st), the biggest celebration is on the eve of the holiday.
Each Lunar New Year is represented by an animal that has strengths and weaknesses much like the belief in astrological signs such as: Pisces, Gemini, or Scorpio. People born under the Year of the Sheep are believed to be kind-hearted, gentle, friendly, indecisive, and shy.
When I received these wine samples, I was quite excited. Last year, when the first release of Lunar New Year wine (2012 Pinot Noir, Year of the Horse) arrived in liquor stores, I missed my opportunity to try them. You can imagine my excitement of finally getting to taste some new BC wine and wine that would pair with Asian cuisine!
2013 Haywire Lunar New Year White: A fine blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Youthful with a good intensity on the bouquet to stand up to stronger aromas in culinary dishes. Notes of fuzzy peach, golden pears, elderflower, citrus, and quince were present. The palate was dry with good acidic structure. There was a solid mouthfeel to the wine, which is likely due to Viognier influences. Some grassiness on the palate with lemon peel, grapefruit pith, flowers, and white tea. My notes show a side comment of, “good, celebration wine”! ~$20 12.9%
2012 Haywire Lunar New Year Red: Predominantly made from Gamay with a “splash” of Syrah, this red blend was a most beautiful ruby colour. The bouquet was very bright with lots of black fruits. Black cherry cola, raspberry, blackberry, and plum were all present alongside a hint of spice. The palate showed a dry wine, high acid structure, medium (-) in body, with juicy red fruit, ripe cherry, and good earthiness (once some air got into it). My notes offer cheese pairings of Cheshire, Chevre, and Havarti. ~$23 12.6%
Why not celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year with some Year of the Sheep-inspired wine? As Plautus, a Roman playwright born in 254 BC, once said, “Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words”.
You can access the wine pairing booklet here.
To order the Haywire Lunar New Year wines, call 604-800-0601 or email Whitney Law at firstname.lastname@example.org. These wines were released on December 1st, 2014 and will be distributed to stores as they are ordered. If you’d like to see if your local wine shop is carrying them, please visit http://okanagancrushpad.com/ –> Our Wine –> Store Search.