Winter invites warm and hearty aromas and we all like to indulge a little more to conquer the cold.
I find wine and curry combinations both exciting and challenging. Feel free to explore and experiment, but there are some golden rules when pairing wine with curry. Remember that you can tweak the dish but not the wine, so be mindful of the wine you choose. Secondly, honour the time you spend in developing those intricate flavours of your curry to make sure that both the food and wine give the other a platform to perform at its best.
South Africans have sweet palates but it is up to you to evolve that by introducing balanced flavours of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Before you spoon a dollop of chutney onto your plate to add sweetness, let the wine do that for you. That being said, not all wines need to be sweet to go with a curry. Aromatic wines do a great job to create that perceived sweetness and tricking your brain into believing you have mastered the balance. The fifth element when enjoying food and wine will always be the place and company in which they are consumed. Be sure to make an occasion of any food and wine experience, no matter how small.
Here are a few guidelines for all you curry and wine lovers:
- Sweetness: Off-dry wines are a go to for a great curry experience. Riesling is a good example and offers both sweetness and lovely aromatics. For more intense curries, more luscious wines like muscadel and bukettraube can be ideal to temper the heat and the spice.
- Ripeness: Big and bold Chenin Blancs are favourites to pair with warm curries as the higher alcohol (and the texture the glycerol provides), can balance the experience without the heat dominating the wine.
- Intensity: Wines with great intensity that lingers in your mouth like a well-made Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are great curry partners. Just be mindful of rich tomato sauces which could make these wines taste steely. A riper Cabenet Sauvignon could do the trick. But yes, good intensity and concentration allows the wine to have the final say and linger longer than the taste of the curry itself.
- Temperature: Wines can be served at a cooler temperature which will also relieve your palate.
- Aromatics: The wine will always be the gentler partner when it comes to texture, but its intensity and aromas can never be underestimated. Viognier’s alluring perfume of florals, peach and spice adds finesse to your curry experience and elevates it to a different level.
- Spice: Gewurztraminer can be dry or off-dry, but its nuances of rose petals and Turkish delight make it a fond partner for any curry.
- Light: Believe it or not, but light white wines low in alcohol, serve a purpose here. They can serve as a cooler, quench your thirst and certainly beats a beer!
Samarie Smith is a certified taster and committed to spreading the wine gospel where she goes, albeit on wine judging panels, educational tastings or sharing the love while cooking for friends and family. She is the Brand Business Manager at Benguela Cove.
Follow her on instagram @SamarieSmith
Moody Lagoon Weekly Curry Menu
2 – 6 July
Malaysian Beef Rendang, coconut, cucumber salad and rice | R160
Recommended wine pairing: Benguela Cove Syrah 2017
9 – 13 July
Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken), raita, rice | R150
Recommended wine pairing: Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2018
16 – 20 July
Prawn and Chicken Thai red curry, coconut, coriander and rice | R160
Recommended wine pairing: Benguela Cove Lighthouse Collection Dry Rosé 2018
23 – 27 July
Lamb Rogan Josh, raita, coriander and rice | R170
Recommended wine pairing: Benguela Cove Pinot Noir 2018