Willie's World - Chinese New Year 2023: Welcoming the year of the rabbit!

Discover special food and wine pairings.

Chinese New Year, also called Luna New Year is a time for families and friends to gather and celebrate the coming of spring. This year is designated the Year of the Rabbit.  The annual 15- day festival in Chinese communities around the world begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, my dad would bring my brother and I Chinese New Year celebratory lunches on the first day of the New Year. We'd eat char siu (barbecued pork), long-life noodles, tangerines, and other Chinese New Year foods. My mom always made sure we were aware of our Chinese heritage—and how important it was that we never forget it! When it came to Chinese New Year and other holiday celebrations, my mom would pull out all the stops! She would set up a lavish table full of traditional Chinese New Year dishes: Peking duck (roasted duck), steamed fish, Tong Yuen (a savory soup with rice balls), long-life noodles… and of course, wine was never an option for us kids. How things have changed!

My favorite food and wine recommendations for Chinese New Year:

  • Potstickers and fried breaded prawns are two Chinese appetizers often served at family gatherings. Luca Bosio Prosecco Extra Dry NV ($15.99) would be a welcome way to start the festivities by bringing those dishes alive.
  • Sweet and sour fish is often a favorite for those with a sweet tooth. The racy, slightly spicy and crisp 2020 Gustave Lorentz Gewurztraminer Reserve ($29.99) is an ideal pairing. Alternatively, for fans of fruit-infused wine, 2020 Ironstone Obsession Symphony ($11.99) provides synergy with this dish. The wine’s subtle floral notes with tropical and mango flavors complement the sweet and tangy flavors of the fish.
  • Char Siu (BBQ Pork) meaty, savory flavors pair well with New Age White ($12.99) with a squeeze of lime.
  • Roast Duck was a standard when I was growing, and my mom always knew which San Francisco restaurants offered the best duck. 2018 Foppiano Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate ($34.99) is a pleasing match. Its candied strawberries, bright fruitiness, and smooth tannins complement the richness of the duck.
  • Cold boiled chicken is featured in all Chinese delicatessens. This has been a favorite of mine over the years! Try it with the nicely weighted 2020 Ironstone Chardonnay ($13.99). This dish is served with minced ginger in oil and scallions, and the match brings a liveliness to the wine that may otherwise not have been noticed.
  • Special occasions like Chines New Year call for longevity noodles. They’re chock full of crisp vegetables and water chestnuts. Pairing it with the crisp 2021 Count Karolyi Gruner Veltliner ($11.99) The subtleness of this wine folds nicely into the dish.

Happy Lunar New Year 2023. These dishes are standards for the occasion, but there are many more choices. Try these and explore the many wines from our portfolio.

Let’s bring in the year of the rabbit in style.

—Wilfred Wong