Happy Lunar New Year: Hot Pot and Old White Wine

Happy Chinese Lunar New Year my internet followers. We decided to celebrate the year of the cock with our fudge on a Japanese classic: hot pot.

I started by soaking dehydrated shiitake mushrooms.  Then I caramelized garlic in a pot. Once golden, I added 3 bowls of water to boil. While waiting, I furiously rinsed and chopped bok choy, carrots, enoki mushrooms, firm tofu, and broccoli. I then dolloped miso syrup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, the shiitakes, and a whiff of sriracha into the boil until I could just taste them. Fresh udon noodles and tofu plopped in. After five minutes, I killed the heat and then layered in the veg: crunchy’s first: carrots, then broccoli, bok choy, topped by enoki mushrooms. The lid capped in the steam.

While I dished it, topped with sprouts and roasted sesame seeds, I dwelled on what wine to choose. All these mushroomy, umami, and salty flavors being backed by various vegetables and light tofu presented a problem. Most reds would kill it. Medium bodied, mildly earthy Pinot Noir has worked in the past. Fresh whites come off clean but forgettable.

However, do you have decade old whites that you are scared to open? Hot pot will save them.

I have a $55 bottle of 2007 Viognier. But luckily it is from France, luckier from Condrieu, luckilier from biodynamic madman Chapoutier.

m-chapoutier-invitare-viognier-2007It looks a medium intense amber with straw-colored highlights.

AROMAS smell intensely of hot bee’s wax, honey, dried apricots, mint, salt, fresh linen, white vinegar.

The PALATE feels dry but fruity, with still alive medium acidity, medium alcohol (14%), and a plump medium body, and a waxen yet stoney texture.

FLAVORS contrast dried apricot, poached white pear, and honey with a salt, verbena, and white mushroom.

M Chapoutier’s 2007 “Invitare” Viognier from Condrieu managed to age gracefully. Cellar Tracker claims 2012 was its do or die end drink date. Yet, in 2017, shift your expectations from citric, fresh, and floral, and embrace the waxen, open, expressive complexity. View it like a trendy orange wine and it is very good (4 of 5).

Then pair it with a soy miso broth and vegetable hot pot and smile. Both flank similar umami notes and intensity. The wine sways toward dried fruits. The meal dives into earthy mushrooms. The roasted sesame seed pop. The wine’s honey brightens. The contrast works.

Why not add something old to something new. Happy Lunar New Year.  We could all use a fresh start.


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