Indian cuisine is filled with robust, intense, delicious, spicy flavors. Furthermore, Indian dishes are usually served with several sauces, chutneys, and curries, giving Indian food an even more intense flavor.
Indian food needs a beverage that can balance out the spicy flavors of the food. Most people choose beer, cocktails, or another alcoholic beverage to go with Indian food. However, a glass of wine is the perfect beverage to serve with Indian food.
Tips for Pairing Wine With Indian Food
Pairing wine with Indian food can seem a little intimidating at first. However, with these tips pairing wine with Indian food will be a breeze.
Consider the Sauce
Indian foods, especially curries, have several different sauces. For example, there are herbaceous green sauces, acidic tomato sauces, and light creamy sauces. Ultimately the sauce will determine the pairing.
Tomato-based sauces pair better with white wines. The acidity of the wine enhances the acidic, slightly sweet tomato sauce. Rose wines also pair well with tomato sauces.
Green sauces work well with sparkling or white wines. Cream-based sauces work better with red wines that have moderate levels of tannins.
Consider The Spice Levels
Most people assume all Indian dishes are spicy. Yes, some Indian foods have a spicy flavor, but not all of them are spicy.
For spicy Indian dishes, choose a wine with low alcohol levels and a hint of sweetness. This type of wine will mute the spicy flavor.
In contrast, mildly spicy Indian dishes pair well with dry or off-dry wines with moderate tannins.
Consider the Protein
The protein will also affect the wine pairing. For example, meat curries pair well with full-bodied Pinot Noir.
In contrast, chicken, vegetables, and curried seafood pair well with fruity Pinot Grigio or Gewürztraminer.
What Wine Pairs With Indian Food?
Pairing wine with Indian food can seem like an impossible task. However, it’s much easier than you think.
Vindaloo is one of the spiciest Indian dishes. The sauce consists of curry paste, vinegar, onions, spices, garlic, and coconut milk.
Vindaloo is served with pork or lamb. However, it can also be served with tofu, vegetables, or chicken.
The spiciness of vindaloo pairs perfectly with Rose wines. The fruity flavors provide a nice contrast to the spiciness of the vindaloo.
Medium-bodied red wines, including Pinot Noir or Gamay, pair well with vindaloo. They add a fruitiness that mutes the spicy flavor and prevents it from overwhelming your palate.
Samosas are crispy fried pastries with a savory filling consisting of peas, onions, potatoes, and spices. The combination of crispy pastry and savory filling is truly delicious.
Sparkling wines are perfect for samosas. It’s best to choose an extra dry sparkling wine to pair with samosas. Prosecco or Champagne pair well with samosas.
The acidity of the extra dry sparkling wine will cut through the greasiness of the fried crispy pastry. However, it will also cut through the rich flavor of the spices and cleanse the palette.
Cream dishes such as korma, pasanda, and Malai use heavy cream, yogurt, half and half, and coconut milk. The cream takes the edge off the rich spices and thickens the sauce.
Cream sauces are best paired with red wines with moderate tannins, such as Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Barbara, and Cabernet Franc.
These red wines have subtle notes of baking spice that contrast beautifully with the spices in the dish.
They also have fruity flavors that lighten up the sauce, and a tartness cleanses the palette.
Rose wines such as Claret or Tavel, as well as sparkling Rose wines, also pair well with cream sauces. These wines provide a fruity contrast to the cream sauce.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala is cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce. It requires a wine with high acidity to cut through the acidic tomatoes.
You should also pair chicken tikka masala with a wine with a bold flavor. The strong flavors of the sauce can easily overpower the wine’s flavor.
Wines such as Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, or Riesling. These acidic wines have a robust citrus flavor that cuts through the rich, spicy flavor of the chicken tikka masala.
Meat stews are filled with spices. Fruity red wines such as sparkling Cabernet Franc are perfect for meat stews.
The bubbly texture will cut through the rich texture of the meat stew and add a vibrant, fruity baking spice flavor.
Avoid oak-aged wines. Oak-aged wines are tannic. The tannins’ bitter flavor can overpower the meat stew’s flavor.
There are many kinds of biryani. Some of them are mild, while others are spicy.
The base of biryani is rice, spices, and saffron. These intense flavors need a dry, acidic wine to soften the spicy flavor and balance out the flavors.
A German Riesling is the perfect wine for biryani. It will mute the spicy flavor and cleanse the palette.
Green sauces consist of leafy greens that are cooked low and slow with spices and onions.
Do not serve dishes with green sauces with red wines. Red wines can overpower the light herbaceous flavors of the green sauce.
White or sparkling white wines are best for dishes with green sauce. These wines are slightly acidic, so they cleanse the palette. But the subtle crisp notes of citrus accentuate the herbs in the sauce.
Butter chicken or Makhani is a spicy dish cooked in tomato sauce. It’s best to pair butter chicken with an acidic, slightly sweet wine to counter the spicy flavor.
Sparkling Rose, Zinfandel, or Riesling works perfectly with butter chicken. These wines are acidic enough to tame the spicy flavors but sweet enough to balance out the flavors.
Most people overlook wine when it comes to pairings with Indian foods. However, wine is one of the best beverages to pair with Indian food.
Pairing wine with Indian food does not have to be complicated. You can pair one of the wines on this list with your favorite Indian dishes until you find the perfect pairing.