Wine and curry sounds like an unlikely combination, after all millions of people all around the country swear by a pint of beer with their chicken tikka masala. However, a glass of wine can be just as delightful with your curry dish.
The reason so many people enjoy the mix of beer and curry is because it’s refreshing and easy to drink with spicy Indian food. You can easily achieve the same effect with a crisp white wine or even a red. When it comes to curry and wine, the possible flavour combinations are endless.
The first thing to consider when choosing a wine to pair with curry is what curry you’re having.
Are you ordering the classic British Indian takeaway? Or maybe you’re going for a creamy Thai green curry?
While both options are considered as curries, they’re vastly different in terms of flavour. This means that they’ll pair nicely with different types of wine. In addition, there are numerous varieties of Indian curries, from creamy chicken Tikka to flavourful Rogan Josh or spicy Vindaloo.
You should also remember the most basic rule for pairing wine with food. Think about the meat in the dish! Looking at all the different aromatic, colourful curry dishes can be overwhelming, but every one of them will have either chicken, lamb, pork or tofu as a base with the occasional seafood or vegetable dish.
As you would with any other type of cuisine, you should match chicken or vegetable curries with a fruity white wine with high acidity and meat curries with a full-bodied red. The one thing to pay attention to with Indian food is the level of spice.
If the dish is particularly spicy, you want to consider a wine with a lower alcohol level and plenty of sweetness to counter the spice.
Mild and medium-spicy dishes go well with a dry or off-dry wine.
Here at Mr.Wheeler, we always help you choose better wine, so in this article we’ll help you select the best wines to pair with your curry dinner.
You can choose a bottle of Sauvignon from any wine region, and you wouldn’t go wrong. Sauvignon Blanc goes particularly well with Thai green curry as it can counteract the chilli heat from the dish. New World Sauvignon Blancs from either Chile or New Zealand in particular are the perfect wines to pair with Thai green curry.
These wines are full of tropical flavours that complement the coconut milk in the green curry.
Another curry match for this popular white are lighter vegetarian Indian curries such as Saag Paneer. This dish features Indian paneer cheese, spinach and a blend of aromatic spices including cumin, ginger, garam masala and more.
A white wine like Sauvignon Blanc has enough acidity that can cut through the richness of the cheese with some freshness.
Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
Alsace Pinot Gris in particular is another winning combination for Thai curries.
Often overlooked by everyone, this citrusy white wine goes fantastically with a creamy flavourful Thai curry. It also pairs just as nicely with a mild to medium-spicy Indian curry.
Riesling is a wine with notorious freshness and a hint of spice.
This makes it incredible to pair with mild creamy curries.
A mild tomato-based curry like Tikka Masala can benefit from a hearty, bright wine like the Riesling to bring some balance to the dish.
Traditional Tikka sauce is made of tomato puree, butter, coconut milk and the star of the show – masala spice mix.
Masala includes spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander and cardamom, which makes it aromatic and flavourful but the mix of aromas can also be overwhelming.
This is where the off-dry German Riesling comes in, with its fruity notes that can help tie together the different flavours.
A light white wine with plenty of acidity like Chenin Blanc is best suited for rich buttery dishes where the acidity is needed to cut through the intense texture. Indian cuisine is known for its variety of curry and rice dishes, many of which are hearty, comforting and smooth.
Dal Chawal is one of those creamy curries and filled with delicious rich aromas.
The base of this dish is cooked lentils mixed with garlic, turmeric, cumin, mustard seeds and cilantro.
Dishes with a buttery texture like this one definitely need a white wine that can cut through all the richness, and Chenin Blanc is just the wine for this. With its light flavour and high acidity, this type of wine can bring out the savoury side of this dish.
The buttery and ripe nature of Chardonnay (in particular New World Chardonnays) makes it one of the best options to pair with spicy curries. Due to the residual sugar, Chardonnay has a particular sweetness of ripe fruits to it that can mellow even the spiciest Vindaloo and help it go down a treat.
Controversial to what many people believe about food and wine pairings, a rich red Pinot Noir goes fabulously with Tandoori Chicken.
This dish consists of chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon and a plethora of spices such as garam masala, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and turmeric.
It’s traditionally prepared in a clay oven known as ‘tandoor’, which is where its name comes from.
This process of cooking gives the meat a lovely smoked flavour, so in this case the white meat combines well with a red Pinot Noir.
A playful lightly oaked Rioja is superb with various Indian curries.
Its lively acidity can help cut through the sauce, and bring balance to the different spices without being too complex in flavour. Try cooling the wine a bit before serving it because then you can truly notice the harmony between wine and curry.
A fresh, light and fruity rosé can be an amazing match for hot food, and luckily, Indian cuisine isn’t lacking in spices. Vindaloo is one of the spiciest Indian dishes, which makes it a nice pair for rosés.
A fruity light-bodied rosé with a hint of natural sweetness can easily cut through the mix of cayenne pepper, turmeric, masala and paprika.
Although it may not be the first combination that comes to mind when you’re ordering your Indian takeaway, wine and curry can go hand-in-hand just as well as any other food and wine combination.
Just stick to the basics of wine pairing and don’t let the complex spices in the dishes confuse you. For dishes on the spicier side look for sweeter wines to combat the heat.
Browse our great selection of wines here at Mr Wheeler wines and find the perfect wine to pair with your curry.