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Pairing Wine and Curry

Photo credits: Matching Food & Wine

Wine and Curry. A combination that could be wonderful or disastrous. Choosing what to drink with your favourite Indian dish is a tricky business and the very best method is by trial and error. There are so many variables when it comes to Indian cooking – what meat is being used, how spicy the dish is and what the main ingredient in the sauce is to name the main ones. We’ve selected four of the UK’s most popular Indian curries and picked some wines that should make a good compliment to your meal. And if you’re not hungry at the end of this post, then there’s something wrong…

Chicken Korma

The ultimate ‘safe’ dish on many an Indian takeaway menu, the main ingredients here are chicken (obviously) with sauce that might contain double cream, coconut milk, yoghurt, ground almonds or indeed, all of these things at once (see, many variables). The dominant flavour is cream of some description, backed up by the protein from the chicken, with sweet spice taking a back seat. Our suggestion would be a medium intensity rosé such as the Domaine de Cassagnau Rosé from the Languedoc – the crisp red fruit flavours are present but also with a subtle creaminess of its own.

Just a quick side note about Chicken Tikka Masala – although it’s perhaps one of the most popular curries in the UK, we haven’t included it here because it’s quite similar to a Korma, but with the inclusion of tomato flavours. It would stand up well to a medium bodied, lightly chilled red with soft tannins such as a Gamay. Try the Beaujolais Villages Château de la Pierre from Jean Loron.

Saag Aloo

Be it side dish or main dish, this spicy spinach and potato recipe can provide some green flavours to counteract all that protein. The spinach is the key element to match here, although bear in mind how strong the spices are too. If it’s fairly mild, a Sauvignon Blanc with grassier notes will work, or if the chilli is a bit stronger, try a slightly more structured Grüner Veltliner such as the organic Lois Grüner Veltliner from Austrian producer Fred Loimer.

Don’t overlook sparkling wines either. Normally head for lighter beers or lagers to drink with curry? Prosecco is your friend, as is any light, refreshing sparkling wine. It’ll also leave you with slightly more room for the food…

Tandoori Chicken

Not an actual curry, granted, but still one of the items we order the most and it’s not difficult to see why – sometimes you just want some well-seasoned, well-cooked chicken and that is that. Considering this is, in essence, a super-charged roast chicken of sorts, I’m going to go with a super-charged Pinot Noir. Think something that packs a fruity punch such as Chilean Pinot Noir and you’ll have a wine that is a match for the spices as well as the chicken flavours. The Casas del Bosque Pinot is ridiculously fruity and smooth, punchy enough for all that exotic spice and with just enough weight to sit nicely with the white meat.

Lamb Jalfrezi

Although a chicken version is probably more popular, we’ve had a bit too much chicken so far in this post so we’re going to make it even more difficult by adding lamb to the rich tomato and extreme heat of this dish. You’re going to need something with tannins to cut through the meaty proteins, something with good acidity for the tomatoes, and something that will also stand up to all that chilli. We’re going to go with a Spanish Garnacha with a good balance of fruit and freshness. The 1415 Garnacha from the Cariñena region in northern Spain is bright and vibrant, with lots of sweet, ripe cherry fruit that will temper the heat of the dish.
It’s impossible to cover every dish in one post, but other suggestions for curries with aromatic spices and sweeter, sometimes coconut-y flavours (such as Thai curries for example) are Rieslingsand Gewurztraminers which have a similar, more exotic flavour spectrum of tropical tones. One to revisit in a later post! Just one more suggestion – don’t crack open your most expensive bottles to go with that takeaway, just in case.


By: Anna

(Grabbed from: