A friend recently pointed out that spicy food by its very nature will overpower the delicate flavour of a fine wine. He said the traditional curry and beer combo works wonderfully and it was a daft idea to spoil it… One Chicken Pasanda and a bottle of Riesling later, he had changed his tune completely. Wine and spice work brilliantly if you follow a simple rule.
Oaks and tannins ruin a good curry. Stay away from anything aged in Oak barrels and stay away from Reds with high tannin content.
A bottle of Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc will all work with almost any spicy dish.
Viognier goes particularly well with Thai food. The herbal notes of the voigner grape add complexity.
Daryl kindly emailed us to say that “A California Zin will work wonderfully with most asian fare… I find the fruit and alcohol work well with the sugar and spice.”
If you are looking to drink a red wine, then a low tannin Chianti or Merlot are fantastic with rich earthy dishes such as the wonderful curries of the Kashmir.
An additional benefit of wine with spicy food is that the alcohol washes the chilli into the toungue making your spicy food slightly more intense than before.
The biggest surprise came last night when my wife opened a bottle of champagne to try with a Goanese Curry. In a word, it was fantastic. This was a real revelation. The curry had no sweetness and the bottle of Moet et Chandon complemented it superbly. Do try any sparking wine with a curry.
There is a new Portuguese rose called Pink Elephant from Estremadura that is being marketed as having been specifically designed to match spicy foods. It is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and offers an easy relationships between sweetness and the sharpness needed to cut against a curry. Available for around a fiver from supermarkets (in the UK) .