The wines you should try based on your Chinese element
Chinese New Year is on January 25 marking the advent of the Year of the Rat and the date of China’s most important holiday. In true mofo style, we’re celebrating with a wine-inspired twist by giving our readers a quick rundown of the Five Elements Theory that’s central to Chinese astrology and then pinpointing one red wine and white wine you should try based on your personal element. Here we go...
The five elements theory
Wood. Fire. Earth. Metal. Water.
In Chinese astrology, these five elements are fundamental to life, determining the makeup and direction of the universe via their relationships and interactions. The theory holds that balance amongst the elements begets stability and harmony between yin and yang and that imbalance, naturally, begets the opposite.
So how do you determine your element? Just look at the number your birth year ends with.
- 0 or 1? So metal.
- 2 or 3? You’re a water baby.
- 4 and 5? Wood it is.
- 6 and 7 = fire!
- And 8 and 9? All about the earth.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the Five Elements Theory and you know what your personal element is, let’s chat wine!
These guys are the ones you want in your corner when you’re having a bit of a meltdown and need a calming influence. Imagine the wood element like the trunk of a tree with a century or two under its belt: immensely strong and stable, yet reasonably flexible and adaptable to its environment.
Naturally creative and wise, wood personalities show strong leadership qualities but can sometimes come off as a bit overbearing — not unlike zinfandel (aka primitivo, a red bombshell celebrated for its inky-dark colour, robust body, and powerful flavours of chocolate and berries) and marsanne (a seemingly delicate white wine in its youth, which after a handful of years in bottle becomes intensely rich with a luxurious honeyed texture and a rounded nutty, spicy profile).
You know those friends who can’t ever seem to sit still and have a hard time having a lazy day in? We’d bet a glass of vino that their element is fire.
Fire elements crave thrills and adventure, and they’re constantly jumping about from one activity to the next. They’re incredibly passionate and intense, with charisma to spare and energy to burn (which can oftentimes translate to ‘impulsive’).
For wine matches, we’re thinking Hunter semillon — it'll help fire signs chill out with its effortless cool and incredible cellar-worthiness — and GSM, with the spice to put fire in your belly when you're in that kind of mood.
Loyal and peaceable, earth elements take ‘grounded’ to a whole new galaxy. They’re typically stabilising influences with huge wells of empathy (read: excellent listeners who’ll help you through tough times), and they have calm personalities that make them phenomenal mediators. Mother hens of a sort, their protective instincts can make them a bit controlling — but above all, they’re reliable.
You know what that sounds like to us? Malbec, which is earthy itself and very easy to like. It consistently produces delicious wines and if it's not hanging out by its fine self, it can often be found filling cabernets with all kinds of mid-palate, purple-fruited goodness.
You know what else it sounds like? Barrel-fermented sauvignon blanc. That ever reliable variety you know, with a warm, softening, flavoursome wrapper of oak to give it body and depth. It's zesty citrus vibe still rings true though, and it’s a seriously dependable white that should make an appearance on your table ASAP.
Those super-driven, clearly ambitious folks in your life? Say hello to metal. Wildly determined and persistent to the point of single-mindedness, metal elements favour organisation and simplicity over luxury.
In other words, they’re straightforward and no-nonsense, like the human equivalent of falanghina (a lighter-bodied Italian grape that goes with summer like dark chocolate goes with cabernet sauvignon) and gamay (the French grape famously used to make the bright-and-bubbly Beaujolais nouveau) — or a good pinot noir if you can't find one of those.
Oh, the wisdom of water! Like wood and earth, water is associated with calm — but it’s also got a pronounced element of danger to it, like the ocean. Water personalities have uncommon depth and can be hard to get to know on a surface level, but once you probe a bit deeper, you’ll find a sharp mind and a penchant for soulful conversation.
More nuanced and complex layers the further down you go? Reminds us of nero d'avola, Sicily's trademark red that opens with earthy tones and surprises with exuberant florals and tannins to bask in, and also of a good aged riesling — equally lively, with a firm framework of acidity, and the good ones will have pronounced salinity and refreshing minerality, all in perfect balance.