Peking duck is a classic Chinese dish, but it 's been changed and diluted by the numerous inferior versions that are served around the world. At many restaurants, it's a tough, wrinkly duck with a sickly sweet sauce. In Beijing where it was thought to have originated, it's served in generous slices with abundant meat attached to crispy skin, whereas in finer restaurants in Hong Kong, the skill of the carver lies in slicing off the skin cleanly without any meat. Wherever the duck is served, it comes with thin plain pancakes (sometimes with steamed bread), sweet hoi sin sauce, slivers of spring onion and batons of cucumber. The best wine to pair with Peking duck has to shine through the hoi sin sauce and condiments.
Pinot Noir, Salitage Treehouse 2003, Pemberton, Australia
The Pemberton region in Western Australia generates hardly any discussion among wine lovers. It is, however, one of the best cold coastal pinot noir areas in the western state. Salitage is quite possibly the pioneer of the area. The wine is sumptuous and has enough flavour-enhancing complexity to match a broad range of foods. It has sufficient sweet fruit to stand up to the hoi sin sauce without being stripped of its integrity. Whether it's served with just the crispy skin or with some of the duck meat, there's plenty of richness to handle the duck. Go easy on the awkward and assertive spring onions, though. Also try this wine with stir-fried duck strips and bean sprouts.
Available for $188 from Boutique Wines (tel: 2872 4234)
Pinot Noir, Crosspoint 2003, Monterey County, California
Pinot noirs from the US aren't usually known for their good value, but this Crosspoint is an exception. It's fruitier and more drinkable than others in the same price bracket. It's lightly oaked and the flavour of the fruit is pure. This wine would do well with a lot of Peking duck and just a little hoi sin sauce. Try it also with the classic Shanghainese dish of deep-fried crispy strips of shredded beef in a sesame pocket. Available for $155 from Golden Gate Wines (tel: 2891 8121)
Pinot Noir, Felton Road 2003, Marlborough, New Zealand
This pinot noir is the top of the range Block 6. It's complex and fruity with plenty of excellent extracts and a good lashing of friendly acidity. It would balance the duck meat, skin, pancake,
wine-flattening cucumbers and harsh, raw spring onion taste. It would also go well with rich duck soup flavoured with oily, sweet fried shallots.
On special for $398 (regular price $499) at Watson's (tel: 2147 3641)