Spicy food and curries are often associated more with beer than wine, but wine can be paired successfully with spicy food.
In this article we are going to talk about what wines pair well with curry and why.
People vary greatly in their preferences and sensitivities, so there is no clear-cut answer to which wines go best with which dishes.
Chili is a touch sensation rather than a taste sensation and levels of sensitivity vary from person to person. It also varies from person to person how pleasant or unpleasant it feels.
The effect of chili on wine and vice versa
Chili heat in food increases the perception of acidity, bitterness and alcohol burn in wine. It decreases the perception of body, richness, fruitiness and sweetness in wine.
The level of alcohol in wine increases the intensity of the reaction to chili. Alcohol can also increase the burning sensation of chilly. Some people enjoy this and others not so much!
Types of wines that pair well with spicy or Indian food
Tannins in wine can increase the perception of spice and therefore may overpower spicy dishes, as well as accentuate bitterness.
Generally speaking, spicy dishes pair well with white wines or low-tannin red wines. Both should be low in alcohol to limit alcohol burn and bitterness for sensitive tasters.
As mentioned previously, chili can also reduce the fruitiness and sweetness in wine, so you may wish to choose wine with higher levels of both.
It is often desirable for the flavor intensities of wine and food to match; however, in some circumstances, intensely flavored food, like a curry, can be paired successfully with a lightly flavored wine.
Best red wines with curry
Pinot noir – its fruitiness and low tannins make it a great pairing with curry.
Best white wine with curry
Off-dry Riesling or Pinot Gris/Grigio – the fruitiness and sweetness will balance well with a spicy curry.
Hotter the curry the better?
If you want to turn up the heat, try an oaked Chardonnay or an Australian Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre (GSM).