I’m super excited for this week’s post on practical wine pairings with Indian cuisine. It’s written by experienced wine aficionado, and close friend, Gillian Burns, who also shares my passion for Indian food. Like me, she believes comfort food is a plate of Chicken Tikka, Daal Tadka and Basmati rice.
A native of England, a regular traveler to Italy (you’ll see her love for Italian wines through the piece), and having spent much of her two decades in America, living in North California and now Texas – Gillian brings to this piece personal learning, the kind of expertise you and I can relate to.
For the holiday season or anytime of the year, you definitely want to read through Gillian’s simple suggestions, born out of years of experience entertaining with Indian themed meals, and pairing the perfect wines to go with these rich flavors.
Written by Gillian Burns, Wine Aficionado and Indian Food Enthusiast
Which wine should I drink with Indian food? Does red or white wine work best with curry? Good questions. And, if we’re honest; ones that can be somewhat daunting to answer given the rich abundance of spices and ingredients used in Indian dishes.
But perhaps it’s this myriad of culinary flavors that gives us permission to break away from the traditional norms of pairing wine and food – and flings the window of selecting wine wide open.
In essence, Indian cuisine gives us a unique creative license to experiment with the wines we like to drink.
So next time you’re eating Indian food, put the rules of wine pairing aside, and pour a glass of your favorite wine. And if you still can’t decide – step outside your “wine” box and try something different.
Champagne and curry? Try it! One of my absolute favorite Indian dinners is Potato and Chicken Curry with a glass of champagne! Or two!
I’m certainly no wine expert, but having enjoyed a lifelong love of Indian food, I know what I like to drink with our weekly Indian dinners or serve at an Indian-theme dinner party. Here are some personal wine pairings with my favorite Indian food – I hope you enjoy them too, next time you cook with Peri’s recipes.
Let’s start with some sparkle and bubbles! I have a particular fondness for serving Italian Prosecco with Indian appetizers.
Eat Indian, drink Italian – it’s become my menu mantra for kicking off many a dinner party appetizer course.
The lightly sweet crisp bubbles of a Prosecco balance two of my favorite Indian appetizers – the dense and richly flavored Spiced Tarragon Chicken Liver Spread and the quick-and easy-to-prepare Black Pepper, Lemon & Tarragon Chicken Tikka in Peri’s new cookbook ‘Spice up Your Celebration.‘
While mainly served as an aperitif, I often step outside my own “box” and serve Prosecco with milder curry entrées, or for a quick weekday meal, have a glass with Spicy Shrimp Tacos.
(Note: buy ‘superiore’ label Prosecco)
I love the versatility of sparkling wines with Indian food. J Vineyards in California’s Russian River Valley, produces exceptionally good sparkling Brut wines – an excellent accompaniment with appetizers, kebabs, and sides like Lemon & Mint Spicy Quinoa Salad.
If you lean more toward reds in your choice of wine, try partnering a Pinot Noir with Indian fish dishes. The play of spices in a fish marinade, like Lemony Masala Fish Tikka, with the lighter fruits of a Pinot Noir complements one another well.
Robert Sinskey’s organically certified Winery in California’s Napa Valley produces, in my opinion, some of the region’s stellar wines, ones that are outstanding with Indian food. I’ve enjoyed Sinskey’s wines for over 20 years and his Pinot Noirs, in particular, are top of my wine list. If you get your hands on a bottle of Sinskey’s Merlot– serve it with a richly spiced meat curry for a meal to remember.
Lamb and mutton is the meat of choice in Indian cuisine (mutton being from mature sheep has a stronger flavor). Marinated with traditional Indian spices, lamb is used in a variety of preparations from rice biryanis to ground meat kheema and kebabs to curry.
My wine of choice with an Indian lamb dish? Hands down, I’ll open one of Italy’s mighty reds – Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montipulciano. These classic and famous wines are made with Sangiovese grapes and both hail from vineyards in Tuscany. Serve either one with Grilled South Indian Lamb Chops for an outstanding and truly delicious wine food partnership.
If you enjoy grilling, Indian style kebabs are easy to prepare and quick to cook. Peri’s kebab recipes marinate chicken or meat in yogurt first, giving them a crispy char on the outside whilst staying juicy and tender inside.
White wines are a good choice with these lighter fare kebabs – serve a French Viognier or a crisp Sancerre with Buttermilk and Thyme Chicken Tikka Kebabs.
The Sweet Ones:
There are many sweet wines that stand up well with Indian desserts. But lets put those wine rules aside again, and try something different.
A sweet piece of heaven!
Disclosure: All the above suggestions for wines and vineyards are personal favorites, and are not a paid endorsement.