Just as the lentil series was threatening to take centre stage in the preceding blogs, I have Tags: chana, handi, kebab, desi, roti, tikka masala, bhatura, curries, paneer, kulfi
decided to change the topic a little just as to make a happy co-incidence with the election of US
president. The mood obviously is cheerful and optimistic and so wines will take the rightful
place during the celebrations centered on food and dining.
While some of the world cuisine goes very well with wine even to the extent of matching each
of the courses with appropriate grape variety and fizz. Same is not true of Indian food which we
are trying to investigate and explore today.
With the surge in economic activity and globalization of market, it is only a matter of time that
foreign businessmen and visitor will push the Indian dining experience towards acquiring a new
dimension in the form of pairing of Indian food with wine. One could very soon see the a bottle
of wine with the slightest excuse to go with popular Indian food like curries, kormas, biryanis
and tikkas. Some of the prominent Indian restaurant under the aegis of well known hotel
brands like Caridges, ITC and Hyatt have already started the initiative with guarded caution and
some other restaurants, within the hotel and standalone, would follow the suit to bring out the
culinary subtleties of food to complement the notes of wine.
Role of Sommelier
The surest way towards a better melody of curry and wine is to trust the knowledgeable
sommelier (the French term for wine waiter) but the overzealous waiter is equally bad. The
final decision is yours and your ability to afford the elixir of life. One should still be prepared to
question the selection of wine by the sommelier if all the notes are pointing to the same
direction without much informed choices. The idea is to develop the mutually complementing
symphony than the one overpowering other.
Most of the better Indian hotels and some of the up market Indian restaurants have tied up
with their foreign counterpart and arrange training and workshop for its staff to develop the
knowledge and skill. This is also a very good exercise in revenue maximization because of the
margin involved in wines and low labour cost implication in the long term. While the pairing is
still in the infancy in India, it is a common practice in western countries to plan the food around
wine, tapas like food being one of the examples.
Challenges of Pairing Indian food and wine
While it is easier to pair food with some of the cuisines of the world notable amongst them are
Italian, French, Mediterranean because it is a part of their day to day culture, it has always been
difficult to do so with most of the Asian cuisine as it was not a part of their culture. For example
drinking Sake is always very popular with Japanese cuisine. Indian food on other hand has never
been on the same side as that of their western counterparts.
The use of spices, the distractions of oil, the pungency, the inconsistency of recipes that one
wine working with the same food in one restaurant may not be the case with other restaurant.
Mushrooming of Indian restaurants all over the world with their own anglicized Indian recipes
has also not helped the cause. Exception to the rule will always be the delicate Indian
preparations the recipes of which are always guarded secrets of some select few in the India
The complementary notes:
While champagne will always be the natural choice to go with almost the endless variety of
food, the selection though will have to made between brut (dry) and sec (sweet).
Italian red wines like Chianti, Amarone, Barolo, or Barbaresco will go very well with chunkier
Indian food like lamb curry, tikkas and kormas. A good Riesling (white grape) from
Germany, France or Austria would do absolute justice to spicy and lemony food.
Some of the smarter people who do not wish to experience the pain of uncertainty of
choosing red or white would go with Rose wine (wine with the reddish tinge which renders a
pink hue to the liquid) to carry them through the entire meal experience.
Surprisingly the new world wines have charted the lesser known territories than their famed
old world counterparts. Young vintages work well with most of the food and if consuming
more than one wine during the meal experience, chose the lighter wines before full bodied
ones, dry wines before sweet one and lower alcohol wines before higher alcohol wines.
Always insist on tasting the wine before approving the entire bottle; for balance of flavour
work well when you know the spices and herbs and the floral notes of your wine.
We will try to explore more of it in the coming blogs with suggestions and alternatives. Unil
then just remember the popular Latin phrase “ In vino veritas” which means there lies the
truth in wine.
Tags: chana, handi, kebab, desi, roti, tikka masala, bhatura, curries, paneer, kulfi