Year of the Dragon

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone! Today begins the Year of the Dragon, which should be auspicious and powerful, according to the Chinese zodiac.

I hope you have a nice dinner with some of the auspicious foods meant to bring luck and prosperity in the new year – fish (in Chinese is a homonym for “surplus”), dumplings (said to resemble gold ingots), chicken (ji is a homonym for “plenty”), and eight-treasure rice (self-explanatory), for example.

And what to drink? I’ll have some posts this week on the subject of wine with Chinese food. It’s a subject that is mired in the same-old preconceptions that wine doesn’t work with anything remotely spicy, and unfortunately the majority of Chinese restaurants don’t take wine seriously. But there’s room for fun and experimentation, as well as some delicious matches.

Photo courtesy of Iron Horse Vineyards

Of course, wineries like to get in on the celebration, too. Iron Horse Vineyards recently released their 2007 “Chinese Cuvée” sparkling wine, emblazoned with the Chinese character for dragon on the label. The wine is 75% pinot noir, 25% chardonnay, with the dosage (about 4 ml per bottle) coming from Iron Horse’s “M” chardonnay, a single-vineyard planting of the Stony Hill clone, according to winery CEO Joy Sterling.

The dosage “gives the wine a special spiciness and lemon zest, tangerine and lime,” Sterling said. Those flavors definitely showed through on the sample I tried, which was elegant and light, with nice finesse. We may have more luck finding it in China, however – of 1,000 cases produced, 880 are being exported to China. Iron Horse has a reputation in the Middle Kingdom, after President Clinton served an Iron Horse wine to Chinese President Jiang Zemin at a state dinner in 1997. The suggested retail on the wine in the US is $98.

So we may be toasting the Year of the Dragon some other, more plentiful wines. I’ll be suggesting some this week.


About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (
This entry was posted in California, Food and Drink, Sparkling Wine, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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