Celebrating Chinese New Year in Style

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 4, 2018
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During the second new moon, generally between late January and mid-February, Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is celebrated around the world.

For over a billion people across every continent, this is the perfect time to ward off bad spirits, start anew and rejoice in the wonderful things life has to offer. This year is the Year of the Dog, which symoblises the coming of fortune. China was actually one of the earliest countires to keep domesticated dogs, with dogs representing loyalty through their close relationship with people (people born in dog years are said to be reliable and patient).

 

This year, festivities will commence on February 16 and will run for a full 15 days. So, as you usher in the Year of the Dog, here’s a guide to help you celebrate in style.   


Chinese New Year’s Eve: a harbinger of good fortune

New Year’s Eve marks the beginning of the festival and is traditionally spent at home with family wishing one another good fortune. Many people who observe Chinese New Year often choose to make dishes that are symbolic of the festival’s theme; luck and prosperity.

 

What you’ll drink will depend entirely on what’s on the menu, but bringing a good bottle of cognac – perhaps a Hennessy VSOP – will always be a real crowd pleaser. According to tradition, the French brandy is the quintessential representation of love, power and goodwill – three things that lie at the very heart of Chinese New Year celebrations. If you’re looking for another cognac option, Hennessy XO is a balanced cognac with spicy aromas of oak and leather.

 

Not a cognac fan? A smooth scotch whisky such as Johnnie Walker 18-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky is excellent for toasting the new year and is special enough that it’s a gift fitting the occasion.


Sharing gifts: a fête of prosperity

One Chinese custom involves older family members giving money in red envelopes called a hóngbāo (the Mandarin translation). Red is an auspicious colour for Chinese New Year, due to its synonymy with luck and prosperity, so it’s important that you get this right.

 

In addition, numbers play a particularly crucial role in safeguarding the success of the following year.  So, if you’re giving a red envelope, it’s important that you fill it with crisp new notes and consider the amount is a lucky number – eight being the luckiest of them all.

 

Another popular gift at this time is a nice bottle of red wine. With this in mind, it’s hard to go wrong with the Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz. The colour is obviously on point and the label will undoubtedly be well-received thanks to its auspicious numeric connotations. If you’d rather an international red wine, we’d recommend a bottle of Dog Point Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand. The last few years have seen a massive demand – particularly in China – for Marlborough wines.  


The lantern festival: welcoming in the light

This night marks the close of the Chinese New Year festivities and is a celebration of the light that comes after winter. It involves a variety of traditions that range from decorating lanterns to watching lion dances and eating tangyuan – a type of sweet dumpling made with brown sugar, sesame seeds and even rose petals.

 

If you’re looking to make the most of the lantern festival this year, we recommend welcoming the light with a golden flute of champagne, such as Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV. Regardless of what you’re drinking, the most important thing is that you spend this time with friends and loved ones.