Picking a wine to enjoy with an Indian curry can be a tricky business but it is not an impossible task and sitting down to a curry with a glass of wine rather than a beer is achievable!
In this article I would like to explore matching some white wines with Indian curries. First off I would mention high alcohol wines may bring out the heat in a curry potentially making it unpleasant; we are not looking for the bottle of wine which will get us the drunkest, we are searching for a bottle that will complement our meal. You can buy some superb wines online including a staggering number of delightful white wines and find bottles that are not available in the supermarkets.
Not all of us can stomach a vindaloo and mild curries are extremely popular, especially a chicken curry with a buttery sauce. Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is an example dish that can be made as spicy as you like. Not all Chardonnay white wine will pair well with a curry but these milder, buttery curries will pair well with fruitier chardonnays. Preferably the Chardonnay will be unoaked or lightly oaked. I would recommend searching for some of the Chardonnays produced in the vineyards of the New World.
Another bottle of wine that we will be familiar with is the Chenin Blanc and if you hunt down the sweeter bottles of this popular wine you will find that the sweetness is able to balance the spicy heat of Asian dishes so this could be an option to enjoy with your curry.
Generally, I would say that we are familiar with Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc as a wine buying nation and we may want to take this opportunity to explore a different type of wine.
Viognier is a white wine grape that is becoming increasingly popular; this interesting article by Fiona Beckett in the Guardian details this grape’s rise in popularity. As mentioned in Fiona’s article the Viognier grape is the only grape allowed to be grown in Condrieu, an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the northern Rhône area.
A bottle of Viognier can be paired with curried dishes although I would avoid the hotter end of the curry spectrum, as some of these wines may be higher in alcohol than other grapes. The same can be said for Gewürztraminer as the high alcohol content of this wine can combine with the spices to create an unpleasant heat sensation.
Matching food with wine should be a fun experience and there is lots of guidance and “do’s and don’ts” on the internet and in books you should also not be afraid to experiment, it’s part of the fun I think!
Photo: Robert S Donovan