Another Haywire first!

Another Haywire first!

How about toasting The Year of the Horse with a brightly adorned bottle of Okanagan Pinot Noir?

While several BC wineries have turned their attention to Hong Kong and the broader mainland Chinese market in the last couple of years, few have pursued the significant Canadian Asian market here at home.

No surprise that first out of the gate are the folks at Haywire, who this week unveiled a special label celebrating the Year of the Horse with the current release (2012) of Pinot Noir.

Other wineries have produced bottles with Chinese labeling or characters but, as far as I know, this is the first time that a winery has launched a Lunar New Year wine. And done so in suitable style, with a wine that deserves celebration—the juicy, raspberry toned and nicely mineral Haywire Okanagan Pinot Noir 2012.

The Lunar label is dutifully bright red with metallic gold characters. And the message (translated) it sends is clear: “Good Fortune in the Year of the Horse”. The choice of this lighter bodied Pinot Noir is deliberate, in that it’s far more food friendly (and flexible) than a usually more tannic red variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Suggested food pairings: Pork rib with pepper and onion sauce. Seared sable fish with sweet soy sauce and baby bok choy.

The lighter bodied Pinot Noir is a good match with dines such as sablefish and baby bok choy with sweet soy, rather than more tannic reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon - photo: John Sherlock

The lighter bodied Pinot Noir is a good match with dishes such as sablefish and baby bok choy with sweet soy, rather than more tannic reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon –  John Sherlock Photography

Haywire has also come up with some helpful “basic food and wine pairing do’s and don’ts” (see below), many of which can be applied not only to Asian cuisines but also to other styles.

Years ago, Sumac Ridge founder Harry McWatters tried something similar, when he introduced an off-dry white which (I think) was called Po-To. Although it didn’t succeed—I don’t recall how it tasted. I was on a bus, which is maybe not a good sign—it probably helped lay the foundation for the immense success of Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer, which for years was BC’s biggest selling, 100 percent Okanagan grown white wine. That wine became a mainstay on many Asian wine lists where before you’d be lucky (lucky?) if you found even a bottle of Kressman.

It will be interesting to watch how the Haywire Lunar Pinot Noir is received. I suspect it will be quite well. And that the red and gold label Pinot will become a regular Lunar New Year feature.

Dare we say…

Gung Hay-wire Fat Choy!

$24.90, available by case from the winery, or at a few private wine stores.


Basic Food & Wine Pairing Do’s and Don’ts

(If you’re seriously interested—or perhaps in the restaurant business—you might just want to download the very comprehensive booklet, written in both English and Mandarin, that covers a number of cuisines and wines.)

* Do bear in mind the overall flavour of the dish when seeking a wine to go with Asian food, instead of paying attention to the base ingredients.

* The acidity in sparkling wines and bubbles pairs very well with a wide selection of food. When in doubt, grab the bubbles.

* Aromatic, sweeter wines pair well with hotter, spicier dishes.

* Crispier, drier whites enhance lighter dishes without overpowering the flavour and texture.

* Reds with light or moderate oak go well with soy or oyster based dishes.

* Juicy, fruit-forward reds with depth and complexity match nicely with intense-flavoured dishes, deep-fried or braised.

* Acidity and sugar are good counter-balances to spices so look for those in a wine that will stand up to fiery dishes.

* Pork, mushrooms, bean paste or hoisin sauce can conflict with red wines with dry tannins; look for red wines with little or no oak that delivers delicate, fruity and little residual sugar notes.