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Wine and Dine 

This week: Chinese

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Triple Crown is a casual Chinatown restaurant with an extensive menu of regional specialties, all of which can be ordered in tasting portions after 10 PM. The family dinners, served with steamed rice and dessert, are a particularly good value and allow you to taste a variety of dishes. The overriding flavors here are garlic and ginger and everything is salty, calling for wines that haven't yet mellowed with age. The consulting expert on this trip was master sommelier Joseph Spellman, formerly with Charlie Trotter's and currently with Paterno Imports.

1 1999 Josmeyer Vin d'Alsace Pinot Blanc (Alsace), $13.99-$21. The snow pea sprouts require a highly acidic grape grown in a cool climate and fermented dry to minimize residual sugar. This wine's juiciness, hints of gooseberry, and mild oakiness mitigate the assertiveness of the greens and leave a sweet flavor on the palate, which harmonizes well with the crab. The sweetness and clean finish also suit the rich flavors of the stir-fried lobster. (Fine Food & Liquor, Sam's, Trotter's to Go)

2 1999 M. Chapoutier Belleruche White Cotes du Rhone (Rhone Valley), $10.79 and up. This versatile blend of granache blanc and bourboulenc grapes works with both the tofu's soft texture and the earthiness of the mushrooms. The complex flavors in the stir-fried lobster--edgy ginger, creamy onion, and sweet shellfish--also marry nicely with this lean wine that sparkles with acidity. (Binny's, Fine Food & Liquor, Potash Bros., Sam's, Trotter's to Go)

3 2000 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay (Napa Valley), $14.99. The sharpness of the somewhat overpowering garlic flavor is cut by this chardonnay, which is aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels. Lighter than a traditional California wine of its type, this is more akin to a white burgundy, with a warm buttery essence, making it a good match to the creamy texture of the tofu dish as well. (Sam's)

4 1999 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Red Cotes du Rhone (Rhone Valley), $7.99-$8.99. The limestone and clay soil in the Rhone Valley come through in this wine's finish, complementing the musky flavor of the duck. Strong pepper and clove along with fresh ripe cherry make it suitable for the sweetness of the hoisin sauce. The uncharacteristic blend of half granache, half syrah gives it a smooth finish, making it more elegant than usual for the region. (Binny's, Fine Wine Brokers, Foremost, Jewel, Potash Bros., Sam's, Trotter's to Go, Whole Foods)

5 1999 Alderbrook Zinfandel Ovoc (Sonoma County), $21. The spiciness of the duck and the sweetness of the hoisin sauce work well with a bold wine that can surround and maximize them without drowning them out. This ripe, peppery new-world zinfandel, with hints of licorice and berry jam, does the trick, if a bit too powerfully. Its forward spice and hefty body also make it a match with the short ribs. (Trotter's to Go)

6 2000 Torres Atrium Merlot (Spain), $10.99-$16. The fatty beef needs to be cut by a bold red high in tannins. This merlot's subtle hints of leather and vanilla, mature fruit flavors, and long finish complement the dish. Unlike heavier American merlots, this wine has many characteristics of an old-world bordeaux. (Binny's, Sam's, Trotter's to Go)

Binny's Beverage Depot 3000 N. Clark, 773-935-9400

Fine Food & Liquor 3642 N. Ashland, 773-472-2119

Fine Wine Brokers 4621 N. Lincoln, 773-989-8166

Foremost Liquors 3014 N. Ashland, 773-472-7471,

and 1040 W. Argyle, 773-989-0808

Jewel 1210 N. Clark, 312-944-6950

potash bros. 1255 N. Sandburg Terrace, 312-254-0235

Sam's Wines and Spirits 1720 N. Marcey, 312-664-4394

Trotter's to Go 1337 W. Fullerton, 773-868-6510

Whole Foods Market 1000 W. North, 312-587-0648

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