Pairing Wine with Indian Food

Undoubtedly Indian food is one of the nation’s favourite dishes. With intense flavours and heavy spices, Indian meals can be difficult to pair with wine. Add in the wide array of curries, sauces and chutneys on offer and the flavour profile becomes even harder to define. But you can enjoy many wines with your Indian food, which is why this week Ideal Wine Company is bringing you our top tips for pairing Indian food with reds and whites.

Ideal Wine Company Wine and Indian Food
Ideal Wine Company are showing you how to pair Indian food with red and white wine.

Basics to consider

Bold dishes require simpler wines, that’s the main thing to remember. Anything too strong or bold will be competing for dominance. A wine known for its simplicity will help to balance out the flavours of your meal and contribute to a better overall taste.

To help further balance the dish, there are considerations to bear in mind. Look at how spicy the dish is and the base of the sauce. This will give you a good starting point for matching your wine.

Spicy curries and tomato-based sauces – fruity and light

Blending together tomatoes and curry paste is a popular base for Indian curries and creates a highly spiced meal. This combination can be found in common favourites, such as Vindaloo, Masala, Baingan, Jalfrezi and Bharta sauces. As they create a spicy taste, you’ll want to counteract this heat and intense flavour. Ideally, do this with something light and fruity that can be served cool. This will allow the spice to remain the dominant flavour, the tomatoes to be complemented by fruity notes and the cool temperature to provide a welcome coolness. For this, try opting for rosé, as its fresh notes of fruit provide a good counter. If you’re a red wine drinker, a medium bodied option, such as a Pinot Noir or GSM blend, will provide a depth of fruity flavour.

Green sauces – stick to a classic dry white

These green curries get their colour through leafy greens being slow cooked with cream, onions and spices. Coriander is also prominent in a large variety of these sauces. In doing this, a herby and delicious dish is created. Due to the herbaceous and freshness of this curry, it’s best to stick with a classic option. Most herb-dominated dishes work well with a dry white wine that highlights the lean green profile. With these dishes, we recommend trying a dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc. These whites are the perfect option. Should you fancy something livelier, a good dry sparkling wine can make a great match too. Try opting for an extra-brut sparkling wine to match the herbal lightness of the dish.

Cream sauces – tart fruitiness and medium tannins

Whether your sauce uses heavy cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, these dishes usually have a thick sauce. Notably examples are dishes like Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken and Kormas. The cream softens the rich spices, as the fats in the cream absorb and diffuse the spices throughout the dish. As these are usually less heat-driven, they are one of the easiest types of curries to pair with wine. Deep reds with a medium tannin are ideal for cream based curries. Look out for subtle brown baking spice flavours and a tart fruitiness to enhance your dish. A Zinfandel or Carignan is usually a good place to start.

When it comes to Indian food, wines with simple, well-defined flavours are the best option. These are better at creating harmony between your food and drink. Should your Indian food be particularly spicy, there are 3 main traits your wine should have: serve chilled, pair with wine that’s lower in alcohol content and drink a wine with some sweetness.

How to Pair Your Wine with Thai Food

Thai food perfectly balances many flavours. Sweet, sour, salty and spicy all work together in perfect harmony. While this creates delicious food, it can make it harder to find a wine that perfectly matches all of these different notes. Looking for wines that pair with such intricate food is difficult, balancing the bitter and the aromatic. Here are Ideal Wine Company’s top choices to serve with Thai food.

Ideal Wine Company wine and Thai food
Thai food perfectly balances many flavours, here are Ideal Wine Company’s top choices to serve with Thai food.

Pad Thai and Riesling – sweet and sour

Pad Thai’s sweet and sour noodles bring together a wide range of flavours harmoniously. To perfectly match this, an off-dry Riesling brings a welcome balance. With its dynamic tropical fruity flavours, there is a perfect amount of sweetness and acidity to cut through the spices of the dish.

Look for a Riesling that features jasmine in its bouquet. Picking up on the aromatic notes of the food, jasmine will add an interesting note.

Thai fresh rolls and Torrontés – fresh and lean

These delicious rolls are known for their fresh, crisp and crunchy vegetables rolled together. Due to the simplicity of this healthy snack, as well as the lack of fat, try pairing this dish with something a bit different. A Torrontés brings a sweet smell that works well with the freshness of the vegetables. However, the taste is drier than expected. The lean lightness of this wine brings out the flavour in this healthy choice.

Tom Yum soup and Grenache Blanc – complementing spiciness

A complex, spicy dish such as Tom Yum soup incorporates a lot of flavours and spices. With so much going on, finding a perfect match to incorporate and enhance these flavours presents a challenge. Try serving your soup with a Grenache Blanc. The similar flavour profiles of both dishes help to bring a consistency between wine and food that complements. Both contain flavours of lemongrass, kaffir limes and galangal. An unoaked version of the wine, slightly chilled, makes a perfect match for this delicious Thai dish.

Red/green curry and Gewürztraminer – focus on fragrance

These classic Thai dishes are among the most popular choices for Thai food. Through these two curries are different, they traditionally have the same base of coconut milk, with the colours of the chillies being the key separator. This changes the spice of the dishes, while the general fragrance remains the same across the two dishes. A top tip for matching Thai food and wine is to focus on the fragrance. A Gewürztraminer is perfect for fragrant food. This aromatic grape has an inherently sweet flavour and lower acidity, the lightness of this wine is sure to handle the spices of your curry.

Thai spring rolls and sparkling Rosé – balance your bitterness with sweet

Spring rolls make a great starter for a Thai feast. These light and crispy rolls contain a delicious bitter vegetable filling and can be served with a slightly salty sauce. To brighten up and bring balance to this dish, try opting for a sparkling Rosé wine. This will impart a good amount of fruity sweetness onto your palate, which can cleanse your palate between bites. The bubbles create a refreshing and delicate sip that uplift your spring rolls to new levels.

With Thai food, the fragrance is key. This aromatic mix can help you decide what wine works well, so focus on this. As a careful blend of these flavours that emphasizes the balance of ingredients, look for a wine that harmoniously works with the whole dish rather than single flavours.

Exciting Ways to Use Your Leftover Wine

The jubilant excess of the Christmas period usually sees us stocking up on wine for all the festivities. Moving on from this period, you may find yourself with many bottles of unopened and unfinished wine. Rather than letting this go to waste, Ideal Wine Company has plenty of tips to put your leftover wine to good use.

Ideal Wine Company leftover wine
You may find yourself with many bottles of unopened and unfinished wine. Here’s how you can put your leftover wine to good use.

Red Wine

When it comes to leftover red wine, its best to remember that you can still drink it for up to 5 days. But after this, it’s time to repurpose that wine for better use. Here are a few options we use to prolong the life of our favourite reds.

  • Boil it – ideal for sauces: A standard tip for leftover wine, but a useful one. Try boiling down your red wine until it is concentrated. From here, pour the mixture into ice cube trays to make handy portion sizes and freeze. This means that you have red wine handy to add to your sauces throughout the year without having to open more bottles and create waste. As well as saving wine, giving your sauces a depth of flavour is made simpler.
  • Poach with it – perfect for leftover fruit: If you find yourself with leftover fruit, poaching it in wine creates a simple yet delicious dessert. Pears and prunes, for example, are great vehicles for a good red wine.
  • Mull it – brings new life: Mulling your red wine will undoubtedly uplift your old wine into something enjoyable again. The addition of spices brings a warming quality to your red, while the citrusy notes keep it interesting.
  • Cook with it – great for leftovers: With all the meats at Christmas, many of us choose to make a casserole with the leftovers. A good slosh of red wine can liven up any dish and bring new life to your food.

White wine

White wine can last up to 7 days once it’s open but can turn brown or take on a vinegary taste after this. Therefore, it’s best to act sooner to avoid this. The same principles of red wine generally apply to your leftover white wine. It’s worth remembering that white wine generally pairs better with lighter food, so here are a few tips on how to adjust these standards for white.

  • Leftovers – stick to white meats: While white wine can work well with different hot meats, it is best to stick with white meats like turkey when cold. This lightness works well with a delicate meat, but may be overwhelmed by red meats. This same rule applies if you are making a casserole or pie out of your leftovers.
  • Cooking with it – wonderful with fish: As the new year comes around and we try to be healthy, a lot of us may see an injection of fish into our diet. When cooking fish, a splash of white wine can bring acidity and zesty flavours. Your leftover white would be useful here.

Sparkling wine

While this may be the wine of choice around the festive season, it can be hard to know what to do with leftovers. Champagne can last up to 5 days after opening, while Prosecco is good for a shorter period of 3 days. Proper storage in the fridge with a cover is key and you should act fast.

While sparkling wine can follow the advice of white wine, it is not a great showcase for the wine. Try making a delicate jelly with your leftover sparkling wine. This still gives the flavours a chance to shine, while prolonging the life.

In general, the golden rule to remember with using leftover wine is how much did you enjoy it. If it is leftover because no one liked it, it’s not worth saving. Similarly, if it has gone bad and the flavours have changed dramatically, it may be beyond saving.

Matching Your Christmas Starter to Your Wine

Christmas dinner is undoubtedly one of the most important meals of the year. While you may have decided what wine to serve alongside your classic turkey dinner, starters offer more variety and therefore more trouble. With so many options to choose from, it can be a bit daunting to find a wine to match. At Ideal Wine Company, we’ve compiled a list of perfect starter and wine combinations that’ll earn their place at the Christmas table.

Ideal Wine Company Christmas starters and wine
Here’s how to match your Christmas starter to your wine.

Smoked salmon and Riesling

A classic choice for a Christmas starter, this option pairs well with a light crisp white wine. Try pairing with a dry Riesling. Its vivid green apple flavour works especially well with the fish. The sweetness of a Riesling highlights the smoky taste. Acting as a palate cleanser between bites, the natural acidity of the wine counterbalances the fat content of the fish. A good tip to remember when buying a Riesling for smoked salmon is to avoid sweeter or medium dry varieties. The smoky flavour can overwhelm these options, while a dry Riesling softens and rounds these flavours perfectly.

Roasted pumpkin soup and Chardonnay

A hearty soup is a real crowd-pleasing favourite. Taking the flavours of the season, this creamy starter offers strong and rich flavours. With pumpkin soup, try offsetting this velvety starter with an oak-aged Chardonnay. A medium-bodied option should provide a bright acidity to contrast the soup. The layered light fruit and toast character of the wine provides a refreshing note. This stops the creaminess of the soup from becoming overwhelming, without overpowering it. A perfect pairing for a festive feast.

Grand Marnier paté and rosé

Featuring pork, duck and chicken liver and finished with an orange liqueur and orange slices, this paté packs a lot of flavour. With so much going on, it can be difficult to pair this wine with one specific wine. For this reason, we suggest going with an option that combines elements to fit the variety of flavours. We recommend trying this paté with a rosé wine. Look for a medium bodied variety that has the refreshing texture of a white wine, while also bringing a somewhat deep flavour that is more typically found in a red. This hybrid wine perfectly matches the rustic and hearty offering of paté.

Beef carpaccio and champagne

At Christmas, don’t be afraid to try something a bit different for your starter. A fresh tasting salad made from beef carpaccio is a perfect solution if you’re looking to make a change. With its slightly salty taste and leafy greens, this is a light option. For this reason, it’s best not to choose too strong a wine. Try a Champagne or similar sparkling wine, as these pair surprisingly well with raw beef. Its natural sweetness perfectly brings the entire dish together. What is Christmas without a glass of Champagne?

There are plenty of starters you can bring to your table this Christmas, with an endless variety of wines to pair them with. We recommend choosing lighter options for the first course, to bring a subtlety to a traditional rich meal.

The Best Wines to Serve with Soup

As the months get colder, it’s always an excellent idea to reach for warmer and heartier food. As the natural choice, soup works as a nourishing winter warmer but can be hard to pair with wine due to the interplay of broths and flavours. Here at Ideal Wine Company, we have plenty of recommendations for pairing your soup with wine. This week, we bring you the perfect wine and soup pairings for this season.

Ideal Wine Company wine and soup
Here’s how best to pair your soup and wine this winter.

Pea and Ham Soup with Riesling

Whether you prefer pea and ham soup thin or thick, Riesling pairs well with this simple dish. The honeycomb and beeswax notes of a Riesling pair well with the ham, as it has similar flavours to a traditional ham glaze. The minerality and sweetness of the wine also works as a palate cleanser between bites, heightening a humble meal. We recommend a classic, off-dry Germain style Riesling for this dish.

Indian Red Lentil Soup with Cinsault

While it is often recommended to use white wines or Gamay when pairing with Indian Cuisine, Cinsault pairs perfectly with this dish. Columbia Valley interpretations are fresh, fruity and slightly smoky, elevating the hearty and delicious flavours of the soup.

Butternut Squash Soup with Gewürztraminer

A crowd-pleasing wholesome meal, Butternut Squash soup pairs well with Gewürztraminer. This semi-sweet, aromatic white wine, with notes of cinnamon, ginger and honey, pair wonderfully with the silky texture and spice of this soup.

French Onion Soup with Beaujolais

This classic French comfort food works well with a classic pairing, Beaujolais. The flavours of plum, cherry and peach compliment the distinct sweet flavour of slow-cooked onions. The acidity of the wine should cut through the broth too. We recommend a Cru variety, as they are known for their lighter style and won’t be too heavy when paired with a hearty dish.

Tom Yum with Grenache Blanc

Tom Yum soup has many hard-hitting flavours. Using lemongrass, kaffir limes and galangal, you may think it’s difficult to pair a wine with this complex, spicy dish. However, an unoaked Grenache Blanc and Tom Yum pairs perfectly together. The flavour profile of a Grenache Blanc is similar to Tom Yum, also having notes of lemongrass and galangal, meaning the dish and the wine complement each other and produce a heightened flavour profile.

Beef Stew with Carménère

A staple of colder months, a tender and familiar beef stew is the perfect comfort food. It is popular to combine with full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, with these wines working well with the beef of the dish. However, if you want to try something new, opt for a Carménère. A medium-bodied Carménère can add a much-needed dimension to this dish, especially if peppercorn and herbaceous notes are dominant in the stew. When shopping for this wine, we advise avoid any 2016 Chilean vintages.