Spice and Nice – How to Pair Indian Food with Wine

Ask anyone who knows me well what my all-time favourite food is and they’ll certainly answer Indian.

With its exotic blend of intense flavours and spice, nothing beats Indian cuisine. If I had it my way, I’d be feasting on it on a regular basis. I love homemade Indian food, but it’s so labour intensive I usually stick to my occasional Indian takeout – the spicier the better!

There isn’t much Indian food I wouldn’t eat. From the array of fragrant spicy curries to the delightful fruity chutney condiments, it’s fair to say that Indian food boasts a rather complex flavor profile.

Its complexity makes it a bit more challenging to pair drinks with it, namely wines. I was never really able to get it right, that was until a good Indian friend of mine advised me to keep the drink simple to create a better balance. And this is where it all began…my love affair with Indian food and wine, together!

Basically, the rule of thumb when pairing wine with Indian food is to consider the sauce profile and its level of spiciness.

Apparently Gamay, the lighter bodied sister of the Pinot Noir, is a wine you can’t go wrong with when pairing wine with Indian food. Riesling and Indian food is a match made in heaven, as are sparkling rosés and Grüner Veltliner.

Tomato-Based Curries


 Korai, Madras, Jalfrezi, Vindaloo, Masala, and Rogan Josh are just a few of the many tomato-based Indian curries to choose from when dining at an Indian restaurant. All different in their makeup and all delicious in their own right, these are some of the more fragrant infused Indian dishes.

What do all these signature Indian dishes have in common? Their aromatic tomato gravies! This Indian sauce profile can be married to any cold fruity wine. Taste the tomatoes and enjoy the zing with this amazing Indian wine pairing.

Try either a sparkling or still rosé or a fruity medium-bodied red, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay.

Cream-Based Indian Curries


 Melt-in-the-mouth creamy Indian curries include Pasanda, Butter Chicken, Korma and Malai.

These delicious yet sinful Indian curries are rich, and usually feature yoghurt, heavy cream or coconut milk to form its thick gravy.

For those of you who like milder curries and delectably soft textured meats, these are the curries for you. I enjoy eating them all, but if I were going to pick one to eat in an Indian restaurant, I’d opt for a hotter variety.

If you like your deeper red wines, this might be a curry to choose as the cream and medium tannin blend together perfectly. Lambrusco and Zinfandel are just two wines to look out for on the Indian menu.

Leafy Green Indian Curries


 Lovers of spinach, kale and other leafy greens will appreciate these slow-cooked Indian curries that create a mélange of greens, creams, shallots, fresh corriander and onions, resulting in an intense herbaceous-type sauce as seen in the saag.

White wine lovers will be excited to learn that pairing their favourite white (still or sparkling) with an Indian green profile sauce will create an intoxicating sensation, bringing out the herbal elements of the dishes and the sweet fruits of the wine.

If you’re looking for some wine pairing ideas to match your saag, try Riesling or a dry Chenin Blanc.

Sweet Wines and Indian…

 The best Indian Restaurants around the world have two things in common. They serve what can only be described as amazing Indian food and Riesling and/or rosé feature on the menu.

With its lower alcohol level, its perfect level of sweetness and a being a wine served cold, Riesling has everything to counter balance the spice and enhance the flavours.

You really do have to taste a culture and cuisine before you understand it!

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