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With Chinese New Year coming, many of us will soon face those tables loaded with a dozen or more dishes. For those interested in pairing them with wine, here are a few ideas:

1. See what the experts say. It might seem like I dismissed them earlier but only in terms of deference. Expert opinions can be a good starting point for determining your own preferences. With Peking duck, for example, most recommend Pinot Noir over Cabernet Sauvignon. See if you agree.

2. Order several different wines. If a big night is in the cards, you will drink plenty of bottles, so split them between a red and a white – or even more options if possible. That means more wines to try against all those dishes.

3. Experiment. I recently went for spicy hotpot with a small group. We had a wine typically recommended for spicy food, a semi-sweet German white wine, but also a half-dozen Napa reds. Our initial skepticism disappeared as the sense of sweetness from those fruit bombs, especially the Merlots, helped handle the heat. 

This is an abreviated version of the article that appears in the January 2014 issue of the Beijinger; for more, continue to read this article online at ISSUU.com.