I love Indian food, especially when paired with a good glass of wine. So when Mallika wrote on Quick Indian Cooking about matching wines and other beverages with Indian food, I had to add my 2 cents. Especially after finding an interesting match for last night’s takeout supper of Chicken Tikka Masala and Aloo Palak (more on that later).
One good way to go with Indian food is a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc. Dryer styles provide a nice offset to the spicy food, cleansing the palate a bit before the next burst of flavor. A Simi 2004 Sauvignon Blanc would be a nice choice. You could also do well with a Mondavi or other basic dry Sauvignon Blanc. Note sometimes this varietal has a citrus element, which you don’t want to be too strong matching with something so flavorful like Indian food.
Another option is to go for something with a bit of sweetness like a Riesling. The Ayler Kupp I posted about is a nice affordable choice.
Viognier is a lively tasting white varietal that also has potential for standing up well to Indian. This Alamos from Argentina is a good option in this department.
If you want Chardonnay with Indian, I’d recommended staying away from very oaky/buttery versions. (I once made the mistake of matching a fairly pricy bottle of chard with big oak and butter flavors with Indian–the taste of the wine was overshadowed by the food.) In other words, a “naked” or unoaked chardonany works best. Many white burgundies have potential here, such as Macon Lugny. While California Chardonnays have a reputation for being heavy on the butter, you can find some good naked chards from CA–I’M Chardonnay is a very good one I’d recommend.
Personally, I wonder why they bother putting red wine on the menu at Indian restaurants, it’s just not something I would order. But if you were so inclined, something spicy like a zinfandel would be what I’d try.
Now, if you’re still with me, last night’s wine…an interesting blend I hadn’t tried before–an Oveja Negra Chardonnay-Viogner from Chile’s Central Valley. The blend is 70% chardonnay (unoaked I assume) and 30% viognier. The viognier gave it a lively taste with just a hint of sweetness, a nice touch combined with the tasty meal.