Wines that curry favour…

Wines that curry favour...

THEY say the hotter the curry, the trickier the wine match. With fiery dishes such as vindaloo I’d try a floral-scented Argentinian Torrontés to counter the heat (or of course a crisp, ice-cold lager). But whatever liquid refreshment you choose remember it’s a good idea to avoid heavy alcohol and wines with high tannins.

Of course traditional Asian drinks like mango lassis remain a non-alcoholic classic but if you want to try something new – or move out of your Kingfisher lager rut – then these top bottles are second to naan when it comes to handling some spice!

1) Rock on with this bright & bouncy Rioja for Rogan Josh & mild to medium-bodied spices

Ramón Bilbao Rioja Crianza 2018, Spain (£9, Tesco, 14% alc)

Ramón Bilbao was established in Haro in the heart of Rioja Alta in 1924 and today sources grapes from 200-hectares of owned vineyards, with access to a further 900-hectares via long-term grower contracts. As a sustainability leader it was the first Spanish winery to gain certification from the Wineries for Climate Protection organisation, the trailblazing and only specific certification of environmental sustainability for the country’s wine industry. Here’s a fruit-driven, gluggable Rioja Crianza, which means it has spent a minimum of one year in oak barrels. It’s an attractive, smooth, sweetly-fruited red with notes of blackberries, red fruits and hints of sweet spice. With a velvety texture and ripe, fine tannins, this is a joyful, juicy, easy-drinking style of Rioja that goes brilliantly with Rogan Josh. It’s also magic with a madras. 100% Tempranillo.

2)  Traditional method pink bubbly from Bordeaux

Calvet Brut Rosé, Crémant de Bordeaux 2019 (£12.99, Ocado, 12% alc)

The wines of Bordeaux have the variety, affordability and excellence to get the most out of your favourite curries. This (traditional method) Crémant de Bordeaux sparkling rosé is based on Cabernet Franc and Merlot and it’s a great match for Keralan fish curry, prawn curry and creamy, milder dishes, such as Korma, Pasanda, Makhani (butter chicken) and Tikka Masala. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry, nectarine, redcurrant and sweet pastry flavours spark brightly through the palate. It’s fruity but dry, with a creamy mousse and impressively persistent. An excellent aperitif too. Bon appetit!

3) An exceptional Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for Thai green curries

Nautilus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Marlborough, New Zealand (£13, Co-op, 13.5% alc) 

Highly aromatic with lifted characters of passionfruit, guava, blackcurrant and grapefruit jumping out of the glass, this zippy, fresh and focused Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc goes down a treat with Thai green and veggie curries. Puckering lemony acidity snaps the herbal finish. It’s brilliant, luminous stuff and a serious food wine that won’t fall over any time soon. Get in quick though as 2021 was a very small harvest in New Zealand, especially for Marlborough, the largest and economically most important wine region with around 70% of the country’s vineyards. A real treat.

4) Top-tier local craft cider made from 100% Kentish apples

Turners Medium-Dry, Lightly Sparkling Cider, Marden, Kent (£4, 500ml, & Fuggles Bottle Shop, 6.5% alc) – Help Alex! Come on, just two bottles left at the latter establishment!

This succulent, low tannin, lightly sparkling craft cider from Marden is made from classic culinary and dessert apples and fermented with champagne yeast. It has a wonderfully wholesome crisp apple zip and zingy acidity that allows it to cut through spicy foods. Pour it with chicken Jalfrezi, chicken Balti, chicken Korma, lamb Bhuna and rich and creamy Shahi Paneer. A fantastic (road tested) spice matcher.

Tipple tip: pour a new beer, not the usual lager, with your curry!

Unsurprisingly thirst-quenching lagers are popular with curries – especially those with the highest level of heat – but for a change here are two even more complementary alternatives that are the bullseye for beer mavens:

  • German Hefeweizen – where the grain bill is usually 50% Pilsner malt & 50% wheat malt – with Pad Thai or Thai red curry. Try Franziskaner Hefe Weissbier (£1.80, 500ml, Tesco, 4 for £6 with Clubcard) or Rothaus Hefe Weizen (£4, 500ml, Fuggles Bottle Shop)
  • A style-defining Belgian Saison for fish curries, Chicken Massaman curry & Thai green curry: Saison Dupont (£2.59-£4, 330ml, Virgin Wines & Fuggles Bottle Shop)

Follow James @QuixoticWine

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