Is it difficult to pair food with wine? Yes, it can be difficult if you know very little about wine. Wine experts have no problem pairing food with wine. Pairing Western food with wine is easier than pairing Asian food with wine. This is because Asian food has many more sauces and spices than Western food. Experts say pairing Indian food with wine requires a lot of skill. That's probably why many people drink beer instead of wine with Indian food. To pair food with wine means to choose the types of wine and food that will taste best with each other.
Pairing Western food with wine is easier because white wines usually go with Western-style fish or white meat dishes. Red wines usually taste better with steak or pizza. I never drink red wine with shrimp because it leaves a terrible taste in my mouth. I prefer white wines with Cantonese food. When I was in Penang recently, my Malaysian friend took me and some other Hong Kong friends to eat Nyonya food, which is also called Peranakan food. The word Nyonya (also spelled Nonya) means a woman with a Malay mother and Chinese father. Nyonya cuisine is a blending of Chinese and Malay food. I took a bottle of Chateau Haut Brion 1990, which costs about HK$7,000, to the restaurant.
I, of course, cannot afford such an expensive wine. It was a gift from a good Hong Kong friend. Haut Brion, a red wine, does not pair well with Nyonya food. We drank Chardonnay, a white wine, with the Nyonya food. Luckily, the restaurant also had Western food. We chose a very large chicken pie dish as our last course. We opened the Haut Brion to let it breathe and drank it with the chicken pie. Wine, of course, cannot breathe like we can. To let wine breathe means to let air into the wine to bring out its flavor. You can also do that by swirling the wine in your glass. We had a delicious Baked Alaska for dessert. I love Baked Alaska but very few Hong Kong restaurants have it nowadays.
配搭（pair）對的食物跟酒，是否很難？是的，如果你對酒認識不深，那確實有點難度；但品酒專家要搭配（pairing）食物跟酒，就完全沒有問題了。以西式食物搭配（pairing）酒，比起用亞洲食物來搭配（pairing）要容易得多。那是因為亞洲菜相比起西菜有更多的醬汁和香料。專家說，要以印度菜配搭（pairing）酒品，確實需要很多技巧。或許因為這樣，人們吃印度菜時會喝啤酒而非葡萄酒。To pair food with wine的意思就是選用哪一種酒搭配哪一種食物是最美味的。
以西式食物搭配（pairing）酒品更為容易，因為白酒總是跟西式的魚或白肉類的菜式很相配；而吃牛扒或薄餅時喝的紅酒就更美味。我就從不會在吃蝦時喝紅酒，因會在口內留下一種很難受的味道。我較喜歡用白酒配廣東菜。我最近在檳城時，我的一位馬來朋友帶了我和其他香港朋友去吃娘惹（Nyonya）菜，那也叫「土生華人」（Peranakan）菜。Nyonya（或串為 Nonya）是指有着馬來母親與華裔父親的女子。娘惹（Nyonya）菜是中國菜與馬來菜的混合。我帶了一支價值約七千元的 Chateau Haut Brion 1990去餐廳。
我當然買不起這麼貴的酒，那是一位香港摯友所贈的禮物。Haut Brion是支紅酒，跟娘惹（Nyonya）菜不太搭（pair）。我們吃娘惹（Nyonya）菜時喝莎當妮白酒。幸好，那間餐廳也有西菜。我們選了一碟相當大的雞批作為最後一道菜。我們開了那支Haut Brion讓它先透一透氣（breathe），到吃雞批的時候才喝。酒當然不會像我們般呼吸（breathe）。To let wine breathe就是醒酒的過程，讓空氣進入酒內，進而散發出酒香。你用酒杯搖晃着酒也可以醒酒。我們最後以「火燄雪山」作為甜品。我很喜愛火燄雪山，但已經很少香港餐廳會做這道甜品了。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧