Wine in the Year of the Snake

February 10th 2013 marks the Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Snake.  This got me thinking.  Since I have decided to boycott Valentine’s Day this year and all of its potential angst (sorry boys), why not focus instead on another big annual February event?

Here is a little bit of broad information about the Chinese zodiac.  It is composed of twelve animal characters which are assigned to people born within the animal character’s Chinese calendar year.  So, if you were born between February 2nd 1965 and January 20th 1966, or between February 18th 1977 and February 6th 1978 (or twelve years earlier than the first set of dates or twelve years later than the second set… you get the idea) you were born during the Year of the Snake.  People born within a certain Chinese calendar year are said to have characteristics that correspond to the characteristics of their Chinese zodiac animal character.  Snake people are therefore said to be smart and able to come up with calculated, clever schemes.  They sometimes tend to be loners or present an aloof façade, making them a little more difficult to get to know.  They often also use others to achieve their goals, and this can be done in either a cooperative or a manipulative manner.  They represent danger, possess power, and embody a swift and slender beauty.  Others will either be intrigued and drawn to them or repelled by them; there seems to be little neutrality when it comes to how non-snake people feel about snake people.

Personally, I am glad I am a monkey person.  I’ll bet it doesn’t surprise anyone that I am a monkey person.  The other Chinese zodiac animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, horse, goat, rooster, dog, and pig.

Now let’s break it down and bring it back around to wine.

What sort of wine would pair with snake?  Have any of you ever eaten snake?  I haven’t, though given the opportunity I would definitely try it.  From what I can gather, snake tastes like chicken.  It is lean and muscular, leading me to believe that it would possess some of the characteristics of both white and dark chicken meat.  Some have also said that snake tastes like rabbit or slightly gamey lean pork.  Water snakes, not surprisingly, taste more like fish.  For these reasons, I would most likely choose a white wine to pair with my snake.  Simply roasted, grilled, or fried, I think Pinot Gris or Riesling would work well.  For red wine lovers, a lighter red that compliments poultry or fish is a good choice, so something like Pinot Noir or Gamay would be right.

Here’s a recipe for barbequed rattlesnake:

  • 1 rattlesnake
  • ½ cup teriyaki sauce
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • sesame seeds

Cut the rattlesnake into two inch steaks.  Combine the teriyaki sauce, honey, and ginger and add the snake steaks, coating them well.  Refrigerate this for a minimum of three hours, then remove the snake steaks from the marinade and coat both sides with sesame seeds.  Grill them over medium heat until they are done to your liking.

Because this recipe contains sweeter ingredients I would choose an off-dry Riesling to serve with it, or a fruit driven Pinot Noir.

The honest truth though is that I would be much more likely to pair wine with faux snakeskin on a consistent basis than I would be to indulge in snake eating.  Snakeskin is a classy material for shoes, boots, and purses, n’est pas?  There cannot be any argument that one always looks elegant holding a champagne flute, so that’s what gets my vote.  Pair your snake accessories and footwear with sparkling wine and you’ll get it right every time.

In Cantonese, Gung Hay Fat Choy is a New Year’s greeting that means ‘may you become prosperous’.  I think we can all drink to that!

Up Coming Related Event

Pairing the Zodiac

February 21, 2013

Come try some great wines as Rose Siemens, wine guide, attempts to pair some wines with the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.