Wine and curry? It might sound unlikely. After all, it’s beer and curry for millions of us. Every week.
So why wine?
Sure, beer is an obvious choice with a curry. But once you’ve worked out the subtle differences between a Cobra and a Singha beer, you’re done.
With wine, there’s much more to explore.
First off, we need to sort out what we mean by ‘curry’. Are you thinking the British go-to Indian takeaway, or perhaps a Thai curry?
Both share the term ‘curry’. Both will need very different wines to make the most of your meal.
Of course, you need to take into account the wine ‘warning signs’, those elements that don’t tend to flatter wine – chili, ginger, mustard, pepper, coriander, cumin, lime, tamarind, yoghurt, coconut, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, etc. But then, who said this was going to be easy?
Rewarding though, and fun, certainly.
Here are our top 10 wine styles to drink with curry. Wines that’ll enhance and amplify your curry dinner thanks to what you’re drinking alongside them. Not, as a beer, to simply accompany them. They’ll all take your curry dinner to a different, enhanced level.
If you’d like to delve a little further into making your curry meal special, we hope you’ll find them useful pointers. You’ll find that the best place to find many of these wines isn’t in your local shop. If you buy wine online you’ll have lots more choice, and can take advantage of any wine offers the merchant has to offer. These tend to be much better value than the High street.
1: Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc: you could look towards France, and Bordeaux especially, for this blend. Alternatively head south to Australia for some stunning examples, particularly from Western Australia. Curries that work well with this combo tend to be of the Thai variety, think Thai Green curry.
2: Alsace Pinot Gris: another winner with Thai curries, Alsace’s Pinot Gris wines tend to be overlooked, except by French-themed restaurants. That’s a big shame, especially with wines as good as Michel Fonne’s Pinot Gris as one of the wines you can easily buy online.
3: Sauvignon Blanc (Chile or New Zealand): both have upfront tropical/gooseberry flavours that playoff curries with ease. Thai, yes. But also, those lighter flavours in Indian classics. You can grab a classic wine offer right now with the classic Kiwi Bolitho’s Block for just £7.99 at Rude Wines.
4: Beaujolais-Villages: superb with Tandoori chicken, and will easily help Korma dishes. The ‘Villages’ wines are a lighter style than the individual villages, superbly priced, and make for a really fun experiment with whatever curries you’re enjoying.
5: Côtes de Gascogne whites: remarkably well priced, and superbly balanced to cope with an array of spicy curried dishes. It’s the combo of local grape varieties, Colombard, Petit and Gros Manseng which make these sing alongside curries.
6: Rhône white wine blends: think wines like our Ventoux Blanc. Marsanne and Roussanne tangoing to curry heaven. Don’t pair with heavily-spiced dishes though; these wines will shine when the curries are at the delicate end of the spectrum.
7: Rioja Crianza: note it’s the ‘crianza’ bit that’s key here. Lightly oaked Rioja is superb with Indian curries. It’s got plenty of lively acidity to help cut through the sauce, and enough flavour to balance out the spices and heat. Try serving the wine a little on the coolish side; then you’ll really notice the play off between wine and food. Taking just one current wine offer, look to the Rioja Graciano. It’ll blow your socks off with a good curry.
8: Uruguayan Tannat: okay, it’s something of a novelty, and you’re not likely to pick up a bottle in your local 7-11. But it does exist, so shopping to buy wine online comes out trumps here. Then you’ll be able to pick up bottles like the sublime Alto de la Ballena Tannat-Merlot-Cabernet Franc. A wine that’ll take a half-decent curry to stellar heights. And, one to show off your new-found mastery of wine to your friends.
9: New World Chardonnay: why ‘New World’ (i.e. not from Europe)? That’s a bit of a mystery, but sure enough, the buttery, ripe character seems to lap up spicy flavours with ease. I once had a Monkfish Vindaloo at Rick Stein’s Restaurant in Padstow with Californian Chardonnay which was extraordinary (as was the bill).
10: Italian Negroamaro and Primitivo: velvety, warmly fruity, bitter-spicy wines themselves, these two lend themselves immediately to Indian curries. Find the best examples by buying online, like the Paolo Leo wines from Rude Wines. On a par with what you’d likely want to pay for a bottle to go with a Friday or Saturday night curry, they’ll not disappoint.
Start with these 10 wine styles, and you’ll find your regular curry can be an altogether more rewarding experience rather than flipping the crown cap on a bottle of beer.