The cuisine of India, country of countries, is diverse. Mughal pullaos, Goan seafood, Seekh kebabs and Punjab vegetarian – it’s spices for seasoning, enhancing, and flavouring food. How do wines fit in?
Dishes heavy on spice, not chilli, can be paired with Portuguese vinho verdes, Spanish cavas and Italian proseccos – these lemon zesty wines will pare down the spice. For snacks like samosas, pakoras, papadams and murukus, ignore the spice and pair for the salt. Crisp chablis or sweet spumante – they’ll work a contrast of tastes.
For sweetly aromatic rogan josh, kofta, korma and husaini (lamb, raisins and almonds) – fruit-forward rosés will parry its sweetness and fruit. With tandoori, medium-bodied red and white wines with hints of oak will downplay the dish’s smokiness. Choose rioja and soave superiore.
Fruity red wines like pinot noir, chianti classico or Sicilian nero d’avola yearn for creamy kormas and tangy dhansaks. The wines’ soft tannins envelope the fatty textures whilst the fruit matches the tang. Treat yoghurt based dishes as you would creamy ones. Go for a textural match and to hell with the wine’s nuances. Spices take the lead here so uncork generic blended shiraz or merlot for your tikka and bhindi kadhi.
For chilli-piquant food, avoid high alcohol wines. Chilli’s heat comes from capsaicin, an alkaloid that is soluble in alcohol. Before any high alcohol wine washes the heat down your throat, it’ll spread it around your mouth in a short, intense burst! Wines for the fiery vindaloo are German spatlese types and Alsace Gewurztraminers – whose sweetness will carry the chilli away. So who’s ordering the lime juice or beer these days?
Find out more in the books “Pairing Wine with Asian Food” or “Wine with Asian Food”