Ways to Pair Indian Food with Wine

It is something not that common having Indian food with wine and yet it is something that is totally doable. Yes, you read it right, curries and wine go well together! Many times, when going

It is something not that common having Indian food with wine and yet it is something that is totally doable. Yes, you read it right, curries and wine go well together! Many times, when going to an Indian restaurant, we often omit to order for the wines as most of us think that it would be too much for the digestive system. Well, to that rubbish! Indian food and wines pair good, even better. The richness of Indian food and that of wines are nothing lethal but it is a delicacy in the mouth for the mixture of these two have a hint of spiciness in all. Wines with simple, well-defined flavours can create balance with complex Indian cuisine.

Here are the considerations to have in mind when selecting a wine:

  • What is the sauce?
  • How spicy is the dish?

Wine and food pairing are a fun hobby that many people feel very passionate about. If you are a seasoned chef or a wine neophyte, you will find what you need in this brief but detailed wine and food pairing guide.

First, let us start with the basics. Please know that despite the definitive tone, these are all suggestions you can experiment with. So, in general, you pair red meat with red wine and white meat with white wine. If the meat is very mild and delicate, base the wine/food pairing on the sauce or side dish instead of the meat. Remember, wines can be chosen to compliment or contrast the foods served, depending on your preference. If you are going to be serving two wines with dinner, offer the more delicate one first and reserve the bolder one for last. Dessert? It is generally served best with lighter wines.

Red wines are generally paired with strong cheeses, pasta dishes with tomato sauces, beef, and some chocolates. Furthermore, Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for earthy-flavoured dishes, such as mushrooms. Syrah is a wonderful balance for spicy dishes.

White wine is typically served with mild cheeses like gouda, swiss, or mozzarella. White wine is also great with shellfish, seafood, Asian food, pasta dishes in cream-based sauces like alfredo, chicken, and pork. Champagne is just the thing to serve with a salty meal, whereas Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for tart or zippy flavours. If you are serving contrasting flavours like a “sweet and spicy” dish, try Riesling. White wine is also very harmonious to the palate for any food with a fresh lemon or lime squeezed over it.

Any helpful wine and food pairing guide should include listings by food, not just by wine, so here we go. Barbequed food is great with Roja, Chablis, or Baco Noir. Chinese food goes well with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. Likewise, Indian food pairs nicely with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Lobster blends nicely with Sauvignon Blanc. Pizza tastes great with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chianti, and Merlot.

If you feel that spices will be dominating the flavour of your meal more than any food type, here is our wine and food pairing guide for the following spices/flavours:

• Basil – Merlot

• Bay Leaves – Cabernet Sauvignon

• Black Pepper – Chenin Blanc, Gewurtraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Zinfandel

• Caribbean Spices – Chardonnay, Viognier

• Cinnamon – Pinot Noir

• Citrus – Pinot Gris, Semillon

• Chives – Pinot Gris

• Cloves – Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Zinfandel

• Cumin – Semillon

• Curry – Gewurtraminer

• Dill – Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Semillon

• Fennel – Pinot Gris

• Garlic – Sauvignon Blanc

• Ginger – Chardonnay, Riesling

• Mint – Gewurtraminer, Pinot Noir

• Mustard – Chardonnay, Viognier

• Nutmeg – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot

• Oregano – Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc

• Parsley – Cabernet Sauvignon,

• Rosemary – Syrah

• Sage – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling

• Tarragon – Syrah, Zinfandel

• Thyme – Pinot Gris, Zinfandel

If you did not know about wine and Indian food pairing, here are some ways you can learn to do it and the next time you go to an Indian restaurant, do not hesitate to order your well-deserved glass of wine!

Spiced Curries and Tomato-Based Sauces

Examples: Vindaloo, Masala, Jalfrezi, Baingan Bharta

In these dishes, tomatoes and curry paste are blended to create a highly spiced tomato gravy. You will find this sauce profile on many popular dishes including chicken masala, vindaloo lamb and vegetable jalfrezi. The key to pairing wine with this dish is to respect the spice level by matching it with fruity wines that can be served cool or cold and to complement the red tomatoes with a red or rosé wine.

Wine Pairing Ideas

Sparkling rosé, still rosé, super fruity light- to medium-bodied reds including Gamay, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Garnacha, Carignan, or GSM Blends

Cream-Focused Sauces

Examples: Korma, Pasanda, Makhani (Butter Chicken), Tikka Masala, Malai

These dishes use heavy cream, half-and-half, yoghurt, or coconut milk to soften rich spices and form a thick sauce. These are great dishes for those new to Indian cuisine because the fats in the cream absorb and diffuse the high level of spice, bringing the focus to the texture in the slow cooked meats. Also, the cream makes it easier to pair these dishes with deeper red wines with medium tannin. Wines that seem to pair well with creamy Indian dishes have subtle brown baking spice flavours and an elegant tart fruitiness.

Wine Pairing Ideas

Deep coloured rosé wines (Saignée Rosé, Clairet or Tavel), sparkling rosé, Lambrusco and spice-driven medium-bodied red wines including Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, and GSM Blends

Green Sauces

In these dishes, leafy greens are slow cooked with creams, onions, and spices to create a rich herbaceous sauce. Also, you will find a fresh green chutney made with green coriander (AKA cilantro) that goes on pretty much anything (it is amazing). Although there may not be a wide variety of dishes made with this sauce profile, it is one of the most exciting sauces to pair with wine. White and sparkling wines with a lean green profile will highlight the herbal element in these dishes.

Wine Pairing Ideas

Extra-brut sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Vinho Verde, Verdicchio, Silvaner, Albariño, Muscadet, dry or sweet Riesling and dry Chenin Blanc.

To devour that authentic Indian food with a glass of wine, head to Curry Vault in Melbourne, Victoria.

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