General Tso’s Chicken pairs best with fruity and acidic red wines such as Zinfandel, Lambrusco, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. The fruitiness of the red wine complements the sweet factor of General Tso’s Chicken, while the acidity cuts through the sauce and deep fried chunks of chicken. For white wines, dry and crisp wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sparkling wine offer up plenty of refreshment against General Tso’s heat. In either case for red or white wine, you’ll need something with plenty of acidity to cut through the heavy sauce General Tso’s Chicken is smothered in.
Zinfandel has a hint of sweetness due to it’s jammy flavours of blueberry, blackberry, plum, raspberry and cherry. It’s this sweetness that makes Zinfandel exceptional with General Tso’s Chicken as it complements the sweet nature of the sauce the deep fried chicken is resting in. Zinfandel also has a hint of spice and smoke that complements the Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Chilli Garlic Sauce flavours that make up the wonderful General Tso’s Chicken sauce.
When reaching for a Zinfandel, be sure to choose one lower in alcohol and oak. Higher-level alcohol wines and spicy foods do not mix well as the alcohol fuels the spicy fire. Oak adds a fair amount of tannin to red wine, and this will also make the wine taste harsh when pitted against the spiciness of the General Tso’s Chicken sauce. Bottles of Zinfandel around the $15-$30 mark should hit the sweet spot for quality and a delicious pairing.
Riesling & General Tso’s Chicken Pairing
Riesling is a zippy white wine that ranges from dry, off-dry, or sticky sweet. With General Tso’s Chicken, I prefer an off-dry Riesling as it has a kiss of sweetness that complements the sweeter side of General Tso’s Chicken. The slight sweetness of Riesling also suffocates some of the heat of the spiciness found in this classic Chinese Takeout Dish.
Whether you choose a dry or an off-dry Riesling totally depends on your preference. Some people can not stand white wine with any level of sweetness and may prefer the bone-dry tartness of a dry Riesling. In either case, the crisp acidity of Riesling shears through the deep-fried breading of your Chicken, along with the sticky sauce, and elevates the tender chicken flavours, creating a delicious pairing. Acidity also ensures the fatty flavours of the General Tso’s Chicken are washed away in between bites. This is important as when your taste buds become clogged, you don’t end up tasting much by the time you’re on your forth forkful.
Finally, the lemon, lime, honey, pineapple, apple, and pear notes of Riesling are also incredibly refreshing against the spiciness and saltiness of General Tso’s Chicken.
Rosé & General Tso’s Chicken Pairing
Rosé is a dry and tangy pink wine that is crisp in acidity and tart with notes of raspberry, strawberry and cranberry. The tangy acidity of Rosé cuts through the heavy General Tso’s Chicken flavours and provides plenty of refreshment. Rosé is also incredibly food-friendly, so if your General Tso’s Chicken is part of a takeout order, Rosé is certain to get along with everything laid out on the table.
Rosé is not popular in North America as it has the stigma of being sweet, sugary and girly due to its pink colour and marketing. So, if you’re a guy bringing a bottle of Rosé to a football party, the boys might make fun of your wine selection and probably won’t give it a shot. Thus, as incredible as Rosé is, it’s often best served at bridal showers or mixed events where females are more accepting of the pink colour.
Lambrusco & General Tso’s Chicken Pairing
Lambrusco is a bubbly red wine from Italy full of bright berry flavours of raspberry, strawberry and black cherry that complement sweetness of General Tso’s Chicken’s. Most of the popular red wines you find on shelves are full-bodied and oaked, meaning they will have trouble dealing with General Tso’s spicy heat. Lambrusco zags the other way of what’s popular as it’s semi-bubbly, fruity and a touch earthy making it exceptional with General Tso’s Chicken.
In the past, Lambrusco used to be as sweet as soda pop and regarded as cheap wine. In the past couple of decades, huge efforts have been made to make Lambrusco dry or off-dry. Unfortunately it does require a bit of searching to find an exceptional bottle of Lambrusco as various levels of quality still line the shelves.
Cava & General Tso’s Chicken Pairing
Cava is a Spanish Sparkling Wine featuring refreshing flavours of apple, lemon, lime, pear and citrus. There’s also a hint of earthiness in Cava, along with minerality, which complements the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce base of a great General Tso’s Chicken sauce.
Any Sparkling White Wine will pair well with General Tso’s Chicken as they are all lively, zippy and acidic. Acidity is important, as are the bubbles, as they all work hard to scrub the greasy and sticky flavours of General Tso’s Chicken off your taste-buds. With General Tso’s Chicken, I am recommending Cava as it’s inexpensive, and usually of high-quality.
Cava is also perfect if you’re enjoying General Tso’s Chicken as part of a Chinese Takeout order with family or friends. Popping open a bottle of Cava always adds instant fun to any event, dinner, or party as the bubbles add instant excitement.