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Your Easy Guide to Pairing Wine with Indian Food

If there’s one thing we love here in the UK, it’s a good curry. Richly flavoured with a gorgeous array of spices and exotic ingredients, we simply can’t get enough of all the wonderful offerings available to us from the Indian subcontinent. And more so than you might think, Indian food is delicious with wine. While pairing the two may seem a little tricky, it’s not as hard as you think.

Keep in mind these few things and you won’t go wrong:

  • Avoid high alcohol wine with spicy dishes like vindaloo, chicken balti, or madras curry. Alcohol emphasises spice and can make your mouth feel as though it’s on fire.
  • High acid wines are great for cleansing your palate between bites.
  • Choose a wine with similar flavours that show up in the meal. For example, if a dish has lots of ginger in it, consider a wine that also has ginger aromas and flavours like a Pinot Gris from Alsace or a late harvest Riesling.
  • Consider the sauce. Let it be your guide for selecting wines.

Which varieties go best with aromatic Indian dishes? There are a few go-to’s to keep in your wine arsenal. Whites and rosés tend to be the most complementary but you can get away with a few different reds. More on that later.

Sparkling wine is actually brilliant with fried appetisers like pakora, samosas, and onion bhajis. The texture of the wine in the form of bubbles is a lovely foil to the crunch of these savoury starters. But save your Champagne for something else. Opt for a rosé Cava, Prosecco, or if those samosas are spicy, a glass of off-dry Lambrusco.

If you’ve ordered something laden with chillies, reach for a bottle of off-dry white wine. Off-dry means that the wines have a touch of sweetness and that sweetness helps relieve heat. Ever chase a basket of spicy chicken wings with a Coca-cola? It’s the same idea. You can also pop open a bottle of fruity, lower alcohol rosé made from Grenache, Pinot Noir, or some of the rosé blends found throughout the south of France. Prefer a vindaloo? Curries which use tomatoes are excellent with rosés. Just watch the alcohol levels.

White wine recommendations

Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer.

Need a vegetarian option? If something like an aloo saag (potatoes and spinach) is on the menu for tonight, try a wine that has more herbal notes to it. Grüner Veltliner, Albariño, and Sauvignon Blanc are good options. For reds, a rosé of Cabernet Franc or a Sangiovese would be delicious as well.

If you’re a die-hard red wine drinker, you still have some options. Again, look for fruit-forward reds which aren’t tannin heavy. Meal-wise, consider ordering a tikka masala, korma, or butter chicken – all of these have cream or yoghurt bases which mellow the spice.

Red wine recommendations

Gamay, Grenache, Barbera, New World Pinot Noir, and Grenache-based blends.

There are plenty of wine options to choose from when deciding what to drink with Indian food. With a little patience, you can discover the perfect pairing to suit your tastes and bring out the best in both your meal and the wine you choose.

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