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Pairing Wine With Indian Food

Posted: December 19, 2012

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Planning to serve wine at your next Indian party? Here is a helpful guide to pairing wine with Indian food.

By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar

This article was first published at Masala Mommas.

Pairing up wines with a hot and spicy Indian meal can be tough what with all the turmeric, onions, garam masala and cumin flavours oozing from every whiff. Canadian Sommelier, Andrew von Teichman, a partner with Allan Jackson of the Jackson-Triggs brand, in their joint virtual winery Union Wines, points out that there are no rules to wine pairing; but he has some suggestions on the best pairing for some dishes. 

Wines ideal for Indian food

Wines that tend to have a bit more sweetness or have the perception of sweetness tend to be the best match. The heat of the food can be subdued by the presence of sugar. So an off dry wine would be a great way to start. Rieslings are great for this. Some are made bone dry, an off dry Riesling are great.

Gewürztraminer: Another name for this wine is “spicy grape” and these are no-brainers. They’re very aromatic wines, but they have a residual sugar that can combat the sweetness.

Red or white?

You can really do both. You want a red wine that’s a bit lighter in style. So a Pinot Noir or a Gamay noir (Beaujolais). You want something fruity and lighter bodied with Indian food.

Blended white wines tend to be well suited because they are more versatile. Our Union White has a great blend of Gewürztraminer and Riesling in it with a touch of sweetness.

Rose wines are a great idea. On average they seem sweeter but in general they’re an off dry wine, they’re chilled down and they’re fruity so they offset a bit of the spice. Summer is a great time to have a rose. They’re really refreshing.

Wine for Indian appetizers

There are loads of flavours in Indian appetizers, so I’m a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc. This wine hits you with a flavour that’s equally fruity and zesty. It is vibrant and has real character, with lots of aromatics. It’s extremely refreshing as well. It has a bit more acidity and helps to create salivation in your mouth.

Wine for a hardier dish (such as lamb or goat)

I would look at a new world red wine, something from Australia or California. Try to avoid higher alcohol wines. The higher the alcohol could clash with the dish, and can be pretty abrasive on the food.

Wines to avoid with Indian food

I would avoid wines high in tannins so big huge bold reds wouldn’t be the best fit. A real red zinfandel would be too overpowering.

For more information on Union Wines visit:

*Photo credit: Thoursie.

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