By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
It's good advice to take to heart -- and palate. The Tropical dinner wasn't as successful as it could have been, because the residual sugars in Riesling almost demand highly flavored and seasoned dishes. The items that Tropical presented were less vibrant and too subtle for the wines, which ranged from dry to sweet, and as a result the wines were indeed somewhat insulting, ja. In fact they made the fare seem blander than it actually was.
Jeffrey Wolfe of Wolfe's Wine Shoppe enjoyed a better response with his latest Friday-night tasting that featured take-out from Gourmet Gourmet -- crispy chicken won tons with a chili dipping sauce, General Chow extra-spicy chicken, aromatic pork curry, and Szechuan shrimp, to name several. Wolfe's theory: View Chinese food through rose-colored glasses. Literally. Which is why he poured an assortment of rosés ranging from the Toad Hollow Rosé of Pinot Noir ("the richness of the fruit here paired great with the fried items") to the Susana Balboa Rosé of Malbec ("this wine made the curry taste like a great opera, letting the food hit all the spicy high notes with just enough heat to let you sense the pain but not mouth shattering") to the Duval Leroy Saignee Rosé, NV ("had to have this -- the burnt orange sugar and strawberries matched great with the hottest of the hot, even the whole chilies from the General!").
In sum, Wolfe says, "The tasting was a hit. Real men do drink pink! It really opened people's eyes to the other possibilities. One guy said he was going to put down the beer and chill a rosé for his jerk chicken, and a couple of people went out to Miss Saigon [afterward] with a few Malbec rosés."
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But don't let us do all the preaching. Test your own faith at Azul and Café Sambal in the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, where guest chefs from the Oriental, Bangkok and the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong will be cooking from September 24-27. You can sample authentic à la carte dishes during lunch at Café Sambal; taste through a prix-fixe six courses for dinner at Azul; or, on September 27, learn at a three-hour cooking class that includes a three-course menu paired with wines ($150 per person; pre-registration required; 305-913-8254).
Or better yet, before you head out for some mu shu pork next time, call your neighborhood Chinese restaurant and ask about wine lists and corkage fees. If they don't have the former, they're likely not going to charge you more than a token amount for bringing your own. And if you do take in, as opposed to taking out, remember the golden lotus rule and offer your hosts a taste. Sometimes, it's the customers who can provide an education.