5 Tips for Wine and Curry Matching
It is widely believed that Indian curries can only be matched with a good beer; however, this is not the case - wine is also a fine accompaniment to curry; it just has to be the right one. Pairing wine with Indian curries is a difficult task due to the fact that that there are so many layers to a curry: spicy, sweet, and salty. However, there are a few general guidelines that can be followed to make it easier to select a winning combination of wine and curry. Here are five to bear in mind…
For a start, ensure that (if you select a white wine) your wine is well chilled as this will help to cool your palate - in the same way that drinking a beer will do. But, don’t have it so chilled that it mutes the flavours of the wine you’re trying to enjoy. The optimal serving temperature differs for various wines, but around 10-11oC is a good rule of thumb for most whites.
2. Think Acid
The next thing to think about is that every wine has a different degree of acidity – from the more ‘acidic’ wines to those where acid is not a primary feature. Broadly speaking, at the more acidic end of the spectrum you find Rieslings (in your white wines) and Pinot Noir (in your reds); while at the other end of the spectrum you find Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer (in the whites) and Cabernet/Merlot blends (for the reds). For spicy curries, you need a wine that is at the more refreshingly acidic end of the spectrum and contains a certain amount of sugar to counterbalance the spice - such as an aromatic off-dry Riesling. A Gewürztraminer is also a good choice due to its highly aromatic profile and the fact it is often sweet enough to counter those hot spices (particularly chillies). However, contrary to popular belief, Gewürztraminer does not suit all curries because it lacks the acidity to match well with some.
3. Stay Low
High-alcohol content also intensifies the heat of the curry, so wines with higher alcohol content (say 13.5% and over) are best avoided.
4. Protein Profile
The main protein in the curry should also be considered when selecting wine. If you’re not sure where to start with this, you can always bear in mind the old adage ‘white wine with white meat, red wine with red meat’. A curry that has a more gamey meat, such as lamb, does tend to have a much heavier and more intense flavour and could, therefore, be matched with a heartier red, such as a Syrah, a Cabernet/Merlot blend or some Pinot Noir wines. Whereas a chicken curry might pair better with a white. Chardonnay is worth considering for your chicken curry (but remember to opt for one which is not too high in alcohol). Rieslings and Gewürztraminers can also be a hit.
5. Which Curry?
The use of certain spices in a curry can also dictate which wine would best accompany it. Fresh spices such as chillies, coriander and ginger require a more acidic wine which will counter the spiciness of the ingredients and produce a refreshing, palate-cleansing flavour that will both improve the taste of the wine and the dish. The use of onion and spices such cardamom seeds can go well with a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc; while Gewürztraminer can work beautifully with some tandoori dishes - as the sandalwood notes in these enhance the flavour of the wine.
The main thing to remember with wine and food matching is that you don’t want one to dominate the other. You want each to complement the other and make both taste even better! But the best thing is to experiment. Invite some friends or family over, cook up several different dishes, open a couple of different wines, and see what works well. Wine and food matching shouldn’t be too serious a business – enjoy!
What are your favourite combinations for our Love Thy Curry kits? We’d love to hear from you!