Full disclosure, this content was written by me and originally published on Armchair Sommelier, of which I am a contributing writer. For more awesome wine content, be sure to check them out! This time around, we will be covering the best wine pairing with Indian food.
The Best Wine Pairing with Indian Food
Indian food is the way into my heart, and the challenge of how to pair it with wine is a perpetual adventure of trial and error. Hearty spices mixed with flavorful sauces can make wine pairing a challenge, but I’m here to break it down.
It’s important to remember some general rules of thumb when it comes to pairings. This article on How to Impress Guests with Amazing Wine Pairings is a great place to start, but since we’re here to talk about Indian food, let’s get down to business.
Rules of Thumb on Indian Food and Wine Pairings
India is a vast country, and while each dish and region is sure to vary dramatically, it is fair to say that most Indian food is loaded with fresh and dried spices and served alongside rich, flavorful sauces.
Because most Indian food is served with vegetarian proteins, chicken, and sometimes lamb, the protein is not as much of a standout as it might be with other pairings.
The most important factors to consider in your pairing will be the level of spiciness, spice, and the type of sauce used in the dish.
When choosing the wine for your next dinner feast, remember that chilled, lower alcohol, and subtly sweet wines will balance out the heat best. Meanwhile, tannic, high alcohol and smokey wines will accentuate the heat and possibly distract from the meal.
Now, most wine pairing articles meet you at the point of deciding what wine to pair with your dinner, but often I have the wine in mind before the dinner.
That being said, I’m going to switch it up a bit and recommend what Indian dish best suits some of my favorite wines.
Best White and Rose Wines for Indian Food
White wines tend to be the easier pairing grab when it comes to rich and spice-driven meals. Higher acid, low alcohol, and fruit-forwardness are all good things when it comes to a rich creamy sauce, and it provides sweet relief to a burning palette.
Medium-Sweet Riesling, Germany
I love Riesling because it is so diverse. This example I chose is far removed from the syrupy-sweet Rieslings lining most American grocery store shelves. The vibrant, citrusy acidity is well complemented with an easy sweetness and will soften even the spiciest Indian dish.
Best Indian Pairings: Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Jalfrezi
Chenin Blanc, South Africa
Chenin blanc is easily one of the most under-appreciated and most-versatile white wines around. I chose this wine because it’s dry and will easily cut through a creamy, green sauce. Notes of freshly cut grass, pear, and lemon will provide an uplifting counterbalance to a dish that could otherwise risk weighing you down.
Best Indian Pairings: Palak Paneer, Saag Paneer, Mint Chutney
Sparkling Rosé, Italy
As is true in every instance in life, you can never go wrong with Prosecco. I chose a Rose Prosecco because the effervescence, low alcohol, and bright fruitiness will cut through anything. You can easily choose a non-rose sparkling wine or a still rose for much the same effect.
Best Indian Pairings: Butter Chicken, Veggie Samosas
Best Red Wines to Pair with Indian Food
When considering which red wine to pair with your next Indian feast, think lower tannin and lighter-bodied. Anything with big tannins, high alcohol, or smokey notes could risk distracting from the main course.
Gamay is the lightest tannic red wine you can get your hands on. This makes it an excellent choice for a red when you’d otherwise select a white. This wine is bright with vibrant red fruit that will accentuate your next Indian feast.
Best Indian Pairings: Vegetable Jalfrezi, Chicken Tikka Masala
I have found this to be the perfect everyday drinking red. It works equally well as a patio wine or alongside nearly any Indian dish. This red will stand up, without distracting, against spices and tomato-based dishes. This wine showcases pleasant baking spices alongside notes of plum and blueberries. These flavors make it the perfect complement to tomato-based and warm spiced dishes.
Best Indian Pairings: Chana Masala, Rogan Josh
When looking for the perfect wine pairing with Indian food, think slightly chilled, with subtle sweetness and low alcohol.
Riesling and Prosecco are my favorite go-to wines, but as always, use your best judgment. Making sure you like to drink your wine is the only thing that really matters!