Pairing Wine and Food Masalastyle

indian curry featured

By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar

Pairing up wines with a hot and spicy Indian meal can be tough what with all the turmeric, onions, garam masala and cumin flavours oozing from every whiff.  So we enlisted the help of Canadian Sommelier, Andrew von Teichman.  Teichman is a partner with Allan Jackson of the Jackson-Triggs brand, in their joint virtual winery, Union Wines.  Teichman points out that there are no rules to wine pairing but he has some suggestions on the best pairing for some dishes.

Wines Ideal for an Indian meal

Wines that tend to have a bit more sweetness or have the perception of sweetness tend to be the best match. The heat of the food can be subdued by the presence of sugar. So an off dry wine would be a great way to start. Rieslings are great for this. Some are made bone dry, an off dry Riesling are great.

Gewürztraminer: Another name for this wine is “spicy grape” and these are no-brainers.  They’re very aromatic wines, but they have a residual sugar that can combat the sweetness.

Red or white?

You can really do both. You want a red wine that’s a bit lighter in style. So a Pinot Noir or a Gamay noir (Beaujolais). You want something fruity and lighter bodied with Indian food.

White: blended white wines tend to be well suited because they are more versatile.  Our Union White has a great blend of Gewürztraminer and Riesling in it with a touch of sweetness.

Rose: these are a great idea. On average they seem sweeter but in general they’re an off dry wine, they’re chilled down and they’re fruity so they offset a bit of the spice. Summer is a great time to have a rose.  They’re really refreshing.

Wine for appetizers:

There are loads of flavours in Indian appetizers, so I’m a big fan of Sauvignon Blanc as way to come alongside of the excitement of the food in your mouth and this wine hits you with a flavor that’s equally fruity and zesty. The sauvignon Blanc is zesty and vibrant and has real character, with lots of aromatics. It’s extremely refreshing as well. The sauvignon Blanc has a bit more acidity and helps to create salivation in your mouth.

Wine for a hardier dish (such as lamb or goat)

I would look at a new world red wine, something from Australia or California. Tyr to avoid higher alcohol wines. The higher the alcohol could clash with the dish, and can be pretty abrasive on the food.

Wines to avoid with Indian food:

I would avoid wines high in tannins so big huge bold reds wouldn’t be the best fit. A real red zinfandel would be too overpowering.

For more information on Union Wines visit:

About Andrew:

At the age of 16, Andrew started his career at family owned Pelee Island Winery, in Leamington, Ontario. Over the course of several summers while in his teens, Andrew worked as a cellar hand, cleaning barrels and scrubbing floors and spent time in the vineyards, pruning, and learning about grape growing. While studying at Huron College, at the University of Western Ontario, Andrew continued to work at the winery in marketing, designing the first e-commerce wine web site in Canada, followed by a full time role in on premise sales after graduating. After 10 years at Pelee Island, followed by over three years at Vincor, Andrew followed his entrepreneurial passion by partnering with Allan Jackson for Union Wines.

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