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Pairing Wine With Indian Food: Tips From a Sommelier

Introduction

Pairing wine with Indian cuisine can be an exciting adventure for your taste buds. The complexity of Indian flavors, from spicy to creamy and everything in between, presents a unique challenge and opportunity for wine enthusiasts. In this blog, we’ll share tips and insights from a sommelier on how to expertly pair wine with Indian food.

  1. Consider the Spice Level

Indian cuisine is known for its bold and diverse use of spices. The spice level can vary widely, from mildly spiced dishes like butter chicken to fiery hot vindaloo. When pairing wine, consider the spice level of the dish:

  • For milder dishes: Opt for a white wine with good acidity, such as a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. These wines will complement the flavors without overwhelming them.
  • Spicy dishes: Choose a wine with some residual sugar to balance the heat, like a Gewürztraminer or off-dry Riesling. The slight sweetness will cool your palate.
  1. Regional Matchmaking

Indian cuisine varies greatly by region, from the rich, creamy curries of the north to the fiery, tamarind-infused dishes of the south. When pairing wine, think about the regional influences on the food:

  • Northern Indian cuisine: Creamy dishes like tikka masala or korma go well with a medium-bodied Chardonnay or a soft red like Pinot Noir.
  • Southern Indian cuisine: Spicier, tangier dishes, such as dosa or tamarind-based curries, pair nicely with a crisp, fruity white like a Chenin Blanc or a light, low-tannin red like a Gamay.
  1. Texture Matters

Consider the texture of the dish. Is it rich and creamy, or light and fresh? The wine you choose should complement the dish’s texture:

  • Creamy dishes: For dishes with creamy sauces, like a butter chicken or paneer tikka masala, opt for an oaked Chardonnay or a Merlot to match the richness.
  • Light and fresh dishes: If you’re enjoying lighter dishes, such as tandoori chicken or vegetable biryani, go for a crisp and refreshing wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio.
  1. Experiment with Sparkling Wine

Indian cuisine can be wonderfully versatile with wine, and sparkling wine can be a surprising and delightful choice. A brut sparkling wine or Champagne can cut through the richness of many Indian dishes and offer a refreshing contrast.

  1. Try Rosé Wine

Rosé wine is a fantastic option for Indian food as it’s versatile and can complement a wide range of dishes. Its fruity and slightly acidic profile pairs well with both spicy and milder dishes.

  1. Avoid Overly Tannic Reds

While there are exceptions, in general, it’s best to avoid heavily tannic red wines when pairing with Indian food. Tannins can clash with the spices and overpower the flavors of the dish. If you prefer red wine, choose lighter, low-tannin options.

Conclusion

Pairing wine with Indian food can be a delightful and rewarding experience. Keep in mind the spice level, regional influences, and dish texture to make informed choices. Ultimately, the perfect wine pairing is a matter of personal preference, so don’t be afraid to experiment and discover your own favorite combinations. Cheers to enjoying the fusion of Indian flavors with the perfect bottle of wine!

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