Loh mai chi are sweet, chewy balls made of glutinous rice flour with three typical fillings: sweetened red bean paste, black sesame paste or a mixture of sugar, sesame seeds, crushed peanuts and desiccated coconut. The best wine pairing needs to be able to handle the sweet, sticky ball, yet impart some additional flavour.
Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz 2002, Barossa Valley, Australia
As with white sparkling wine, sparkling reds can age for a few decades. This bubbly shiraz is best paired with black sesame paste-filled loh mai chi. The black pepper notes of the shiraz lift the black sesame, while the gentle gas massages the soft, chewy dough, making it more velvety. It's a shamelessly sweet combination relieved by the wine's balanced tannins and refreshing gas.
Available for HK$198 from Watson's (tel: 2147 3641)
Hennessy XO cognac, France
Few tastes and sensations can penetrate the dense red bean paste, but this classy XO will do it. The carefully blended spirits give it a taste of dried fruits mixed with brown spice, soft white fruits and floral notes. It's the perfect match for red bean loh mai chi. The brown notes link closely with the deep richness and heartiness of the bean paste, and the slightly salty, chewy dough is enhanced and lifted by the savoury woody notes of the aromatic spirits. The overall combination is further wrapped in a definite but intermittent richness from the desiccated coconut coating the balls. It's a very adult combination. For a mischievous touch, serve the XO from the freezer.
Available for HK$1,080 from Moet Hennessy Diageo (tel: 2976 1888)
Glenmorangie Port Oak Finish, Scotland
Bill Lumsden is a master distiller. The secret behind Glenmorangie quality lies deep in the quality and diversity of casks that he selects and matures. For this bottling, Glenmorangie whisky is finished in casks used to age ruby red port, giving the spirit a grapey character. It adds breadth to the richness and nuttiness of glutinous rice balls filled with sugar and peanuts. The Glenmorangie has enough depth to massage each mouthful of the sticky dough, and the occasional crunch from the sugar gives texture at the same time.
Available for HK$600 from Moet Hennessy Diageo (tel: 2976 1888)