August 06, 2021 by Arden Montgomery

Best Wine for Indian Food

Consuming a really well-made curry can be an equivalent experience to drinking a deep and complex wine. If you’ve ever attempted to make an Indian recipe, you know how long the lists of herbs and spices that go into a dish can be. Each element adds a unique property which contributes to an overall uniform flavor, but can still be tasted individually if you are taking the time to savor each bite. 

Wine is similar in that a single or multiple grape varietals in combination with yeast and perhaps the flavors of a wooden barrel blend to create a sipping experience which can be either straightforward or galactic in the number of special notes you might encounter. Naturally, this means wine and Indian cuisine are a match made in heaven, when paired correctly. 

Here’s an easy guide to matching wines to some of our favorite foods from Bharat. 

How to pair wine with Indian food

Indian cuisine runs the gamut from fresh, sweet, and acidic to deep, rich, and spicy. You’ll want to be careful in selecting your bottles based on the particular dishes you’ll be enjoying. Indian is all about the sauce rather than the protein, which can include either meat-based or vegetarian proteins, so make sure that’s what you’re thinking about when making your match.

For precise pairings, you can follow these simple rules:

  • Very spicy dishes such as Vindaloo should be countered with a sweet wine, preferably cold. Think Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Sauternes. 
  • Herbaceous dishes like Saag Paneer (spinach and cheese) call for drier bottles like a Sauvignon Blanc, or a bubbly extra-brut. 
  • Tomato-based dishes, including most red curries, love medium Rose՛s or low-tannin reds including Pinot Noir and Garnacha.
  • Yogurt or cream-based sauces pair exquisitely with deeper Roses and darker reds. If you’re having Makhani (butter chicken), Korma or Tikka Masala, this is your opportunity to introduce a Zin or Cab Sauv to the table. 

Here is a final catch-all if you’re still having doubts: the general consensus is that Riesling is the best overall wine to drink alongside Indian. So something like our 2019 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Kabinett Riesling from Nahe, Germany will never go amiss. 

Best red wine for Indian food

  1. 2018 Bruno Grimaldi Nebbiolo d’Alba – $24
    A deep Italian red that pairs perfectly with most Indian animal-based dishes — especially soaked in milder red curry sauces. Red fruit and spice in the nose match the aroma of spice-heavy dishes, and balanced tannins on the tongue elevate a creamier sauce or fatty piece of meat. Pairs perfectly with a mild lamb curry.  
  2. 2018 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Nuits Saint-Georges – $138
    This Pinot projects a fruity aroma which is bolstered with an earthy finish, and begs to be paired with roasted vegetables and game. We recommend sipping this exquisite wine alongside a Garam-Marsala Roast Duck. (Or take it with you to any upscale Indian restaurant you happen to be visiting.) 
  3. 2019 Wonderland Project No. 9 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – $50
    Deep and rich, this beautiful bottle of Cab Sauv has a distinctly autumnal feel. Overripe blackberries and cedar lead the aroma with leather and bay leaf greeting the palate at first sip. A finish of currant compote and tobacco completes the storied experience on a deep but precise note. Recommended for red meat, we think this wine would make an amazing partner to a dish of creamy mushroom masala.  
  4. 2018 A Tribute to Grace Grenache – $30
    This fruit-forward and remarkably floral red offers mild acidity and tannins on the palate that both cut through and elevate fattier dishes. Pairs well with meats of all kinds, as well as spicier sauces — but especially a choice Chicken Tikka Masala. 

Best white wine for Indian food

  1. 2009 Château Climens 1er Cru Barsac Sauternes – $100 (half bottle)
    The epitome of an excellent dessert wine, this Sauternes is sweet but still has personality, leading with floral notes, herbaceous tones, as well as flavors of ginger and apple. Use this beautiful bottle to tame an especially spicy dish, or pair with Gulab Jamun at the end of your meal. 
  2. 2019 Kruger Rumpf Estate Dry Riesling – $23
    Citrusy and with a blend of ripe and fresh fruits, this acidic Riesling is required reading at any table laden with Indian dishes. Its off-dryness gives it a certain versatility and allows it to match with both creamier dishes as well as those skewing more spicy. Of course, the obvious  pairing (and most highly recommended) is with lamb or pork Vindaloo. 
  3. 2020 Storm Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc – $26
    Tropical and bright, this delightful white wine should be a staple at every casual dining experience. Like, if you’re bringing an Indian feast on a beach picnic, this summery Sauvignon has to be there. Especially suited to seafood, we urge you to try this wine with Prawn Koliwada — an Indian appetizer of gingery, garlicky, yogurty fried prawns. 

Best Rose wine for Indian food

  1. 2020 Stolpman Vineyards ‘Love You Bunches’ Rose՛ – $20
    This wine is as adorable as it is delicious. It’s the bubbliest wine without any bubbles, and evokes a remarkable freshness through notes of under-ripe melon and strawberries. The Love You Bunches is dry, and should be served with Malabar Fish Curry — tilapia or sardines in a spicy tomato and coconut-based sauce.  
  2. 2020 Domaine de Marquiliani ‘Le Rose՛ de Pauline’ – $37
    Delicate, slightly salty, with leading flavors of rose water and citrus zest, this rose must be carefully paired with foods that will not overwhelm its select preciousness. While we think it might be interesting alongside a very sweet dessert after a long and spicy banquet, Pauline’s Rose feels most well matched with a serving of Saag Paneer. 

Argaux’s food pairing solution

If you’re done making decisions for the day and just want to relax with your take-out korma and a glass of wine — any wine — let Argaux pick for you, with a curated Food and Wine Pairing Kit. This box comes complete with wine pairing guide for the everyday Big Macs & Burgundy plus 2 to 4 bottles of delectable wines specially matched to both healthy meals and indulgent snacks to treat your palate while you learn about wine.

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