Usually, Indian foods are heavily aromatic and spicy. Indian cuisine includes different curries, sauces, and chutneys, making the dishes richer. Indian dishes are so intense that they are best paired with simple types of wine to balance the taste. This is the basic to remember when pairing wine and Indian cuisine. Wine and Indian food pairing is tricky but fun. Wines that are simple yet contain well-defined aromas are perfect with Indian food.
Also Read: Wine and Food Pairing for Vegetarians
One needs to consider two things while pairing Indian food and wine– the type of the sauce and how much spicy the dish is.
Let’s discuss Wine and Indian food pairing in detail:
How to pair wine and Indian cuisine based on spices and sauces/creams
For pairing Indian Cuisine and wine, spices and sauces/creams are the primary considerations. Here we will discuss how to pair wine and Indian dishes depending on sauces/creams and spices.
Spicy Curries and Tomato-dominated sauces
Vindaloo, Masala, Jalfrezi, and Baingan Bharta are items where tomato paste is used to prepare the curry. That’s why these items have intensely spicy and tomato-based gravy. Chicken masala, vindaloo lamb, vegetable & paneer jhalfrezi, etc., have tomato-based curries. The primary considerations for pairing these dishes with wine are to keep their spice level and tanginess in mind. It is always better to have these dishes with fruity chilled wines. The red or rose wines complement the tomato-based spicy gravy dishes well. So, it is better to pair red or rose wine with spicy Indian curries and tomato-based sauces.
Korma, pasanda, makhana, butter chicken, tikka masala, and malai types of Indian cuisines contain thick cream, curd, and coconut milk as tenderizers of rich spices and create a thick gravy. The cream used to prepare the curries makes them suitable for red wines with low to medium tannins. Wines that contain delicate flavors of brown spices and subtle tart fruitiness are the best to pair with these cream-based sauces and curries.
Green Sauce curries
There are some Indian foods where curries are slow-cooked with green leaves, creams, and onions and form spicy green spices. Sometimes fresh coriander leaves are also used to make green chutney. There are not many dishes made with these ingredients, but these dishes go very well with wine. White and sparkling wines are the best to complement the herbaceous sauces of these items.
Hot spicy chilly sauce
Some Indian dishes are prepared with hot capsicums, and wines with three unique attributes are the best to balance the burn of capsicums. The wines served with hot spicy gravies should be served chilled, the alcohol percentage should be low, and it must contain some sweetness. Riesling is the best wine to pair with hot spicy capsicum-based sauces and gravies.
Wine and Indian Food Pairing Recommendations
Red wine and Indian Cuisine Pairing
- Medium-bodied red wines, including Gamay, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt, Garnacha, Carignan, and GSM Blends, can be paired with vindaloo, masala, jalfrezi, baingan bharta, where the gravy is based on tomatoes.
- Spice-based medium-bodied red wines like Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, and GSM blends can be paired with white sauce cream-based curries; for example, butter chicken, korma, pasanda, Malai chicken, etc.
White wine and Indian Cuisine Pairing
- Leafy green dishes that contain onion and cream can be paired with Extra-brut sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Vinho Verde, Verdicchio, Silvaner, Albarino, Muscadet, dry Chenin Blanc, dry/sweet Riesling
- Riesling can be enjoyed with hot and spicy capsicum-based Indian dishes. The best advice for Wine and Indian Food Pairing.
Rose Wine and Indian Cuisine Pairing
- Sparkling rose wine and still rose wines make good pair with spicy Indian Curries and tomato-based curries such as Vindaloo, Masala, Jalfrezi, etc.
- Saignee Rose, Clairet, Tavel rose deep-colored wines, sparkling rose, and Lambrusco can be paired with korma, pasanda, Makhani, etc., types of white gravies with creams.
Some Fun Pairing of Indian Food and Wine
- Papdi Chaat with fruity dry sparkling wines, with a cold glass of Chandon Brut, can create magic.
- Indian Puri and aloo (potato) curry go well with Sula Chardonnay.
- Paneer tikka is a dish where cottage cheese is marinated with Indian spices and cooked in a clay oven. The smoky flavor of charcoal makes it a perfect pair with Sauvignon Blanc.
- Melt-in-mouth Galouti Kebab goes well with medium to high acidic Pinot Noir wines.
- The famous Indian dish biryani, where meat and rice are cooked together with lots of spices, is good to have with a full-bodied Sangiovese. This wine contains medium to high tannins that cut through the fat and distribute the protein of the meat, thus making the wine delicious.
- Famous Indian dessert Gulab Jamun can be paired with a port wine
- Indian rice pudding is perfect with Chenin Blanc’s heavy body, high sugar levels, and low acidic levels. Chenin Blanc contains aromas of peach and pear that make it an ideal to have with Indian Kheer (rice pudding)
So, this is how you can pair spicy Indian cuisine with your favorite wines. Make sure to choose the wines according to the characteristics of the dishes to get the best taste of them. If you follow the basics shared in this blog, you will never be disheartened.