When it’s well past 5 o-clock, do you care if the bouquet’s got snowpea or snowdrop?
Wine tasting reviews paint a gorgeous picture but can’t guarantee it’s what we want right now.
With Chinese New Year last month we had fun pairing wines to our Chinese zodiac signs – this month we’re going further into some of the Chinese elements of UMAMU!
That is, the 5 elements of traditional Chinese philosophy.
The elements interact like this:
- Water feeds Wood
- Wood starts a Fire
- Fire creates Earth
- Earth holds Metal
- Metal carries Water
So how does that help me pick a mood wine?
Chinese medicine also identifies five therapeutic flavours for each element:
These can come in handy with a little mood guidance. UMAMU followers or not you might know the yin-yang theory of opposites.
Yin is in its extreme: cold, dark, moist, contraction, winter, black, rest, etc.
Yang in its extreme: hot, light, dry, expansion, summer, white, activity, etc.
Salty and sour are yin flavours.
Bitter, sweet and pungent are yang flavours.
You will often hear people with Chinese roots talk about food being ‘heaty’. These are foods – most especially the sweet and pungent durian fruit – that are heavy on the digestive system and lead to all manner of bloating.
An ultra-yang feeling of heat in the body could do with a nice touch of cooling yin. Traditionally when we take warming durians, we try to then chase it with some mangosteens that are yin to cool and balance up the body.
Which is exactly what we did, pairing durian with Sparkling MacAnn 2019 and chasing with mangoesteens and added bonus of cooling coconut water too.
Pairing wines to match your mood or the weather (usually both)
At the heart of these 5 elements is the search for balance.
Which is handy for when you find yourself craving wine. According to the Qian Hanshu (Book of Han) from the 2nd century, alcohol has the effect of:
- Heating us up
- Opening the blood vessels to increase blood flow
- Stimulating appetite and digestion
- Lifting the mood
All of this sounds very yang.
It’s why a cold winter’s day is just begging for a glass of bold red wine with a hearty roast (roasted red meat is rather ‘heaty’ or yang too).
While still having a yang component in the alcohol, white wine is more cooling and astringent than red wine. It doesn’t heat us up so much.
Even better, high quality white wines without too many additives and sulphur dioxide are even more cooling.
When it’s baking out there, a sharp white wine can give you a nice kick of yin.
From these extremes, there are heaps of combinations to play with.
Perhaps you’re neutral and wanting a judge in the right direction – a delicate chilled rose, like our Rose 2018.