Indian food is notoriously spicy, herbaceous, pungent and very, very flavorful. Like Chinese food, it typically pairs well with beer and hard spirits like whiskey. But pairing wine with Indian food is becoming increasingly popular – and for very good reason.
To be fair, it isn’t a slam dunk to pair Indian food with wine, especially since Indian cuisine varies from region to region.
The good news is that there is a burgeoning wine industry growing up in India. Her climate and growing conditions, plus slow-changing social taboos against wine drinking, all conspired to keep India pretty much off the wine map historically. But today, thanks to perseverance and technological improvements, entrepreneurial wine makers are responding to the growing call (some estimate 20 – 30% growth per year) to produce wine. (Some of this growth is also attributable to the rising Indian middle class.)
This is a positive development, since there’s a universal rule that the best wines to pair with local cuisine are local wines.
India’s link to Europe has also made certain wine pairings fairly fun and simple, like pairing Indian cheeses (with an English influence) with Indian wines. I found this interesting taste-test review by Fiona Beckett, which likely is easy to replicate, given our international food trade.
- If you’re committed to pairing only with an Indian wine, try to find one from the same region as the food.
- Avoid wines heavy in tannins.
- Chilled, sweeter wines are your best bet. Reach for a sweet German Riesling (or any chilled German wine) when in doubt.
Remember, wine is for exploration and fun. So if you have a failure or two pairing wine with Indian food, don’t worry. A learning experience can be a humorous memory 🙂
Acchī bhūkha! (Bon appetit in Hindi!)