How Can I Drink Wine With Spicy Food?

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wine questions and queries

How Can I Drink Wine With Spicy Food?

Wine Questions Answered…

by Paul Howard

Q: Whenever I drink a wine with Indian cuisine I find it gets totally lost and the waiter’s knowledge always seems to be fairly limited. Is there something I should be looking for from the wine list that will let me enjoy a tipple with a fairly spicy meal?
Jason, Guiseley

on yorkshire magazine wine red grapes

A: The problem here is primarily due to the hot chilli that kills the taste buds, though some other Indian spices are also extremely unkind. One way of looking at it is to choose a dish that is cool and creamy, such as a korma, where a big bold white wine such as a new world Chardonnay will cope well. For red wine, the tannins clash badly with the spices as well, so go for a fruity new world red. Try a Merlot with Tandoori dishes. I personally find off-dry wines stand up best to curry, though I’m afraid no-one has yet found a successful wine partner for Vindaloo or the pickle tray!

Q: I enjoy chilled red wine and although everybody frowns upon this habit, nobody can actually tell me why this is such a no-no! Can you enlighten me?
Grace Phelan, Harrogate

A: The frowners are wrong! If you enjoy it, do it – there are no rules! However, some reds are much better suited to chilling than others. Chilling red wine reduces tannins and accentuates alcohol at the expense of fruit flavour and aroma. The result can be a harsh taste. So a young tannic red wine or an older delicate red wine will not taste at its best – hence the convention. However, a lighter red wine designed for young drinking can respond well to chilling because it will be naturally big on fruit and low on tannin. Beaujolais is probably the best known example and is frequently served lightly chilled in its native France, especially in summer.

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