When it comes to Britain’s most treasured national dishes, curry repeatedly tops the tables. Times wine writer James Viner has some hot recommendations for wines to perfectly partner these exotic dishes…
What you need with curried food – and this is why an ice-cold beer can be so good – is a revitalising counterpoint to the inherent spice and fire of the dish. Above all, avoid wines with very high alcohol, high tannins and lots of oak as this will only exacerbate the stinging heat factor. A soupçon of sweetness underwritten by a juicy lilt of acidity helps, as do any subtly spiced offerings, especially with fierier curries.
Best Curry All-Rounder:
A Rocking Rosé from the Loire
2016 Rosé d’Anjou, Famille Bougrier, Loire, France (11%, £7.25 The Wine Society; £8.75, Oddbins)
I find that lower alcohol, off-dry, fruity rosés make versatile partners for a range of curries and spicy dishes: They ease the fire (higher alcohol stokes the flames). Red cherries, strawberries and earthy notes sing out in this dazzling, off-dry,
light-bodied Grolleau-based rosé. This pretty pink is spot on with chicken dhansak, chicken jalfrezi and lamb madras and really hits bullseye when you pair it with a seafood/Goan fish curry.
Just the Ticket for Chicken
Tikka Masala, Green Thai and Vegetable Curries
2017 Stoneburn Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
(12%, £7.95, The Wine Society)
This vinous gem from family producer Hunter’s has no shortage of flavour. Boasting a compilation of bright passion fruit, nectarine and ruby grapefruit, it’s also accompanied by nuances of green capsicum and grass. Crack open for chicken tikka masala, Thai green curry with seafood or chicken, Thai crab cakes or prawn and veggie (especially tomato-based) curries. This estate-bottled stunner delivers bags of flavour and is a bargain at the price.
Pair with Lightly Spiced Indian Curries, Thai and other South-East Asian Flavours
2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Gewürztraminer, East Coast,
New Zealand (13%, £8.99-£9.99,
New Zealand House of Wine & Majestic Wine)
This exuberant, perfumed white has strongly varietal sweet grape, ginger and spicy rose petal/lychee aromas and flavours as the starting point. But it also has a very glossy texture and structure supporting its length, plus just a hint of sweetness on the protracted finish. It’s a supreme bottle to chill and tantalise with spicy south-east Asian cuisine, and a particularly good match with a duck or Thai red curry with either seafood or chicken. Showing appealing depth of flavour and a spicy complexity, it over-delivers colossally for under a tenner. This really is Kiwi excellence that you need to taste.
Lamb Rogan Josh with this Piquant Canny Curry
Red Wine Champion
2016 Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenère, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (13.5%, £7.99, Majestic Wine)
If you’re a confirmed red wine drinker, then you will relish this first-rate Chilean vino with a gourmet curry. In particular, it is lamb rogan josh and medium-hot beef/lamb curry’s new best friend. Carmenère is an old
black grape variety from France’s Gironde that was abandoned by the Bordelais in the 1870s after the devastating phylloxera invasion, only to be given a new lease of life in Chile, where it has flourished thanks to the drier and warmer climate. This delicious wine shows just how good exciting Carmenère can be in the long Aconcagua ripening season. It’s full-bodied and delicately spicy with dense black cherry and smoky blackberry fruit, well-rounded tannins, and some cooler, leafy and herbaceous notes providing another dimension with curry. Decant this beauty and pour lightly chilled with your favourite
spicy takeaway, or make it the centrepiece for your next curry dinner party.