Friday, March 15, 2013

Curry & Chabilis?

Indian food is characterised by its generous use of spices like black/green cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, cloves, coriander, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, mace, peppercorns and hence the term Spicy. The "spicy" does not always refer to the hotness of the curries. It could also mean the amout of spices used in the food. The kind of wine that goes with such heavily spiced dishes like sweet and sour vindaloos (Usually Pork & potaoes) to tikkas, (chunks of veggies/meat marinated in yogurt and cooked in a sauce ), is always a big question. The best wines for pairing are usually Pinot Noirs, Zinfandels, and Riojas that can nicely boost the spicy sauces. To complement the juxtaposition of strong spicy and creamy-rich flavours of Indian foods, I personally like whites more than reds like Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Chabilis. 
Yes Chabilis!! I know it’s a bit unusual but somehow it works. White wines temper the palate that's overloaded with spices; cools the palate that's blazing from chilly heat and the fruitiness pair nicely with the flavours of Indian dishes. Dry wines go well with all kinds of Indian dishes owing to their ability to retain their crispiness and freshness, regardless of the spiciness of the cuisine. 
I was graciously sent 2 bottles of finest Chabilis (see notes below) to be paired with take-out food of my choice. I paired it with local Indian-takeaway with food from 3 different regions of India to see how the wine pairs with different styles of Indian food. Tikka Masala from North India, (region consisting of the northern part of India that includes northern and most of eastern India). Tikka masala is chicken/Paneer marinated in spices and yoghurt  and then baked traditionally in the tandoor and then served in a creamy tomato sauce with a few key spices. Keralan Khorma from the South of India, a dish made from coconut, cashew-almond paste & cream balanced with spices. Goan Vindaloo style Egg Curry from West of India. (Goa: a former Portuguese colony and hence the Portuguese influences in food). This delicately balanced spicy, slightly sweet and sour curry with a rich tomato flavour is made with spices & vinegar. 
Both the wines really complemented the dishes. The Keralan Korma was the mildest of them all with rich coconut milk, cream, almonds-cashews, saffron balanced with garam masala, coriander, cumin and paprika. The Chablis La Maladière 2010/2011 William Fèvre paired well with Korma. The Goan Vindaloo style curry with onions, tomatoes, garlic, garam masala, coriander, cumin and sugar with the sour vinegar was great with Petit Chabilis. The slightly spicier of the three, Tikka Masala with Onions, Tomato, garlic, paprika, curry powder and cream was great with Petit Chabilis, cooled the palate after the spice hit. 
I think its absolutely misunderstood that Indian food is always spicy and hence cannot be paired with wines like Chabilis. The dishes I picked from 3 different regions of India are all quite different in terms of spiciness and creaminess, a good example to use when pairing white wine. 

A little about the wine:
Chablis, in the eastern French region of Burgundy, is famous for its dry white Chardonnays. Chablis has four different quality levels. The austere soil which is a combination of fossilised/limestone soil, as well as the continental climate (very cold in winter and hot in the summer with frosts in spring) define its character. The plots on a plateau are the cheapest Petit-Chablis. The next level is Chablis. The best are the Premier and Grand cru wines. Again due to extremity of the climate there are good years when the wines have high acidity and can age well. 
Chablis La Maladière 2010/2011 William Fèvre £14.99 
Taste: An intense back note of acidity and dry finish with fresh citrus notes that is lemony and orangey. 
Smell: Mineral notes with hints of chalk on the nose. 
Colour: Golden with green tints, this wine has a fresh bouquet notes of citrus and lemon. 
Petit Chablis 2011 Union des Viticulteurs de Chablis £9.99 
A very fresh and vibrant wine! A Chardonnay made from grapes grown at higher elevations or on mixed limestone soils in the Chablis region of northern Burgundy. 
Taste: Fruity, spicy and slightly acid notes but crisp with plenty of ripe apple and citrusy boost (orange, lemon and grapefruit notes) with mineral hints. 
Colour: Light gold colour/ straw yellow colour. 
Smell: Zesty apples and lemon 


Sally - My Custard Pie said...

Why not? Other wine matches - a Gewurtzraminer or even Torrentes. I can see how the Chardonnay might go really well with the creamy korma.

Post a Comment

Design © 2011 Laura Jane Designs