For this post, I am going to have my very first guest blogger, Lizzy Esqueda of the Brooklyn Winery, discuss how she went about pairing wines with the Indian supper I prepared. There is not a lot of information out there on this pairing so I am very excited to share Lizzy's insight on the topic. Here's what she had to say:
As you know, Indian food is notorious for being too difficult to pair with wines. When pairing food with wine, the goal is to balance both the flavors of the food with the flavors of the wine, so that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other. In doing so, there are a few things to consider when pairing, and these points will help you find the best match for this cuisine.
One important key is to always match the weight of the food to the weight of the wine. A food with a creamy sauce, or creamy like texture will need a wine with a little bit more body. For example, your raita needed a wine with a little body, so we chose the Finger Lakes Riesling which is a medium bodied wine.
Also, matching the intensity of food to the intensity of the wine is very important. Delicate flavored wines and strong flavored foods do not match. Therefore, it was important that in order to match your Indian dishes that are full of intense flavors, whether it be spicy or sweet, it was necessary to choose wines that were not delicate but had intense, robust flavors to accompany the cuisine in the best way possible.
When dealing with spicy foods, which some of your dishes had a bit of, it is important not to choose wines with alot of tannin or spice to enhance it even more. In order to balance the heat in food, it is important to choose a wine with juicy, ripe fruit and/or with residual sugar to mellow out the spice a bit, rather than making it overpowering. This is why we chose both the Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, which had really nice ripe black raspberry, cherry flavors and also the Moscato d' Asti, which had both rich, ripe apricot and peach flavors, and was also a semi-sweet wine.
Although red wines are very difficult to pair with Indian cuisine, I think the Cabernet Sauvignon and it's ripe, rich fruits were able to work really well. The Moscato d' Asti wine seemed to pair very well with many of your dishes and I was really happy with how it really balanced out and complemented almost every dish, especially the shahi paneer, which had a great amount of flavor and spice. The wine was able to balance out both the heat from the spice and the intensity of flavors in the sauce.
Lastly, another tip is to try and pair sweet foods with sweet wines. Dry wines can seem tart or too acidic when paired with food with a degree of sweetness. The sweeter the food, the sweeter the wine needs to be. Although not many of your foods were sweet, the carrot salad - kosambri, had a bit of a sweetness to it from the coconut. Not enough for the Moscato d' Asti to hold up, but just enough for the slight residual sugar in the Riesling to pair nicely.
The Prosecco was used more of an aperitif to clean the palate, but worked really well with the papri chaat, with a slight bit of residual sugar and flavor to be able to balance out all the different flavors and slight spice that were occurring within the food.
I hope this helps and it was really great working with you!
Thanks for contributing to this post Lizzy!
Photos by Alana, except kosambri:)