Asia’s Best Food & Wine Pairings Revealed by the Region’s Top 25 Wine Judges

Following five intensive days of wine, spirits, and food and wine judging at the beginning of October, the first round of results from the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition (HKIWSC) have been released today at a press conference in Hong Kong, with Master of Wine Debra Meiburg announcing the hotly-anticipated Asian food and wine pairing trophies, as judged by 25 judges from 12 Asian cities.

Founding Director of the Cathay Pacific HKIWSC, Debra Meiburg MW announced the trophy winning wines for the 12 dishes handpicked from five Asian cuisines on offer in 2016 today at a press conference held in conjunction with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.

Highlights of the results announced by Meiburg included the significant increase in entries in the food and wine pairing categories – up over 50% versus 2015 – along with the diversity of countries on the winners’ list in 2016.

Meiburg said, “The Asian food and wine pairing categories were the star of the show this year, attracting a massive 50 percent increase in entries from last year. The combination of a great set of new dishes – like Singapore Chili Crab and Indian Butter Chicken – plus the increasing focus on Asian food and wine pairing, both in Asia and internationally, were key contributors to this remarkable increase.”

Diversity was a highlight of the food and wine pairing trophy list in 2016, with winning wines hailing from New Zealand, Germany, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Portugal and Italy – a significant change from 2015, where Australia and New Zealand took out the vast majority of food and wine pairing trophies.

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Making headlines again in the 2016 food and wine pairing categories is Siam Winery of Thailand, winning the trophy for Thai Fish Cakes with its Monsoon Valley Blended Rosé 2014. This follows its success in 2015 with the Monsoon Valley Shiraz 2014, judged Best Wine with Duck Red Curry.

Chair of the judging panel of this category, wine marketer and writer Tersina Shieh said, “The fish cake itself was delicate but the flavour changed when dipped in the sweet chilli sauce therefore we needed a versatile wine to go with both tastes. The Monsoon Valley Blended Rosé 2014 is lively with a slightly sweet palate, and its subtle stoned fruits and red fruits aromas exploded when tasted with the fish, creating a new sensation. This pairing is a perfect demonstration that local wine indeed goes well with local cuisine.”

2016 saw the inclusion of nine new dishes to the food and wine pairing category, including Singapore Chilli Crab, Honey Glazed Char Siu, Cantonese Braised Brisket, Smoked Pigeon with Oolong Tea Leaves, Indian Butter Chicken, plus many more. Sashimi was the most popular category attracting the most entries, with Singapore Chili Crab and Beef Teppanyaki tying for second, closely followed by new entrant Smoked Pigeon with Oolong Tea Leaves. The full trophy list is below.

Meiburg said, “These results offer both Asia’s food-loving community and restaurant industry expert guidance on the very best international wines to try or recommend to their customers. As the awards are judged by a team of Asian born, Asian based judges, the results are always culturally appropriate – judged for Asia, by Asia.

“Other interesting pairings for 2016 include the FIOL Prosecco DOC awarded the trophy for Best Wine with Mushroom & Pea Masala. Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Shukon 2015 won the Best Wine with Sashimi, showing us that the traditional pairing of sake and sashimi is still an ideal match!”

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Chair of the “Best Wine with Sashimi” judging Panel, Chris So, Media and Education Director at Winelist Hong Kong said, “The Sashimi category was interesting and challenging at the same time, with a diverse range of wines up for judging. As there are three types of fish, it is difficult to have a pairing that matches harmoniously with the whole dish. Wines which have abundant oak, fruit or grassy flavours could easily dominate the delicacy of the sashimi. The winner, a Ginjo Sake, is elegant in style and provides a beautiful clean, dry finish so you can enjoy one sashimi after another!”. This panel was joined by two Japanese judges, including Kenichi Ohashi, the first Master of Wine born and raised in Asia.

Judges from across Asia blind tasted thousands of wines and spirits from over 30 countries worldwide as part of the five-day judging week of the HKIWSC. This year’s star-studded judging panel saw the addition of two VIP judges, Chief Winemaker at New Zealand’s Brancott Estate, Patrick Materman along with David Stewart MBE, The Balvenie Malt Master at William Grant & Sons.

The full results will be announced at the HKTDC Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair on 10th November, 2016 at a gala awards ceremony, open to winners, invited guests and media.

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2016 Asian Food & Wine Trophies

THAI DISHES
BEST WINE WITH KAI HOI BAI TOEI [FRIED CHICKEN IN PANDAN LEAF]
The Kings Bastard Chardonnay 2015
Marisco Vineyards Ltd
New Zealand

BEST WINE WITH TOD MAN PLA [CURRIED FISH CAKES WITH SWEET CHILLI SAUCE]
Monsoon Valley Blended Rosé 2014
Siam Winery Co., Ltd
Thailand

SINGAPOREAN DISHES
BEST WINE WITH SINGAPORE CHILLI CRAB
Asia de Cuba 2015
Hiestand Weingut & Hofbrennerei
Germany

CHINESE DISHES
BEST WINE WITH HONEY GLAZED CHAR SIU
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
Yealands Estate Wines
New Zealand

BEST WINE WITH SMOKED PIGEON WITH OOLONG TEA LEAVES
Mulderbosch Faithful Hound Red 2014
Mulderbosch Vineyards PTY LTD
South Africa

BEST WINE WITH CANTONESE BRAISED BRISKET
Nest Egg Shiraz 2013
Bird in Hand Winery
Australia

BEST WINE WITH CRYSTAL KING PRAWN WITH PARMA HAM
Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten 2015
Domäne Wachau
Austria

JAPANESE DISHES
BEST WINE WITH WAGYU BEEF TEPPANYAKI
Eden Hall Shiraz 2015
Eden Hall
Australia

BEST WINE WITH SASHIMI
Tamanohikari Junmai Ginjo Shukon 2015
TAMANOHIKARI Sake Brewing Co., Ltd
Japan

BEST WINE WITH GRILLED UNAGI
Porão Velho 2014
Encosta da Vila – Sociedade Agricola
Portugal

INDIAN DISHES
BEST WINE WITH MURG MAKHANI (BUTTER CHICKEN)
Val du Charron Black Countess 2013
Val du Charron Wines (PTY) Ltd
South Africa

BEST WINE WITH MUSHROOM AND PEA MASALA
FIOL Prosecco DOC
3GP s.r.l.
Italy