When Korean-born, Hong Kong-based Jeannie Cho Lee first got serious about wine she says she discovered immediately that when it came to Asian food people had just got it all wrong. And now that Cho Lee has been certified as the region's first Master of Wine, she's out to set the record straight in her new book 'Asian Palate'.
The 220-page, hardcover coffee table book is available through Asset Publishing and Research Limited (http://www.theasset.com) for US$98 (66 euros) and Cho Lee says she set out to focus on increasingly prominent role wine plays when it comes to dining in 10 major cities in Asia: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Mumbai.
Once she got over the shock of what she found when travelling around, that is.
"Talking about which wine matches with exactly which dish actually makes absolutely no sense 99 per cent of the time for an Asian consumer,'' she said.
That was Cho Lee 12 months ago, speaking to the South China Morning Post, and she has spent the time since working on how to change some long ingrained habits.
The problem, she says, is that eating Asian food often involves many dishes, and all at once. So traditional course-to-wine choices are nearly impossible.
So in her book, Cho Lee takes a look at the historical influences on the dining and beverage cultures of the 10 cities she visits and then summarises the typical dishes with recommended wines to pair with them, according to her publishers.
"Asian Palates'' also suggests which wines should accompany informal, family style-meals as well as more formal, banquet style occasions - and it is the first of what Cho Lee hopes will be a two-part series, with her next book tentatively titled "Mastering Wine at the Asian Table''.
Cho Lee was the first Asian to ever obtain the Master of Wine title from the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine when she was handed her certificate in London last year and she has also written in the past for renowned wine magazines such as "Decanter'', "Wine Spectator'', and "Revue du Vin de France''.