Monday, July 30, 2007

Indian Food and Wine Find

The challenges of pairing pizza and wine are exceeded only by the challenges associated with pairing Indian food with wine. Most people just have beer. For me, though, it has to be vino.

Usually, my go-to wines are riesling and gewurztraminer. They have enough of a sweet impression to handle the heat of the food without amplifying it with tannins, and their aromatic profiles also stand up to all of those spices that waft out of the pots. But I was surprised to discover a Rhone-style white blend could be an equally good partner for Indian food.

The 2003 Treana Mer Soleil is a white blend made with the Rhone varietals viognier and marsanne and it was superb with Indian food ($14.99, Costco; available elsewhere for between $20 and $30). The prelude to the wine was rich and sweet honey and apricot aromas laced with lemon blossom. At this point, I was ready to dive into the wine! Sipping it, my first impression was of satin, as the marsanne gave it a full, heavy feeling in your mouth. Despite the wine's first impressions, it is actually a dry wine with flavors of golden delicious apples and pink grapefruit dipped in honey. Good acidity made for a well structured wine that was refreshing and fresh.There is the merest suggestion of botrytis in the long and luscious finish, although my research did not indicate that botrytis was really present in the wine. Very good QPR.

We had this superb wine with Maya Kaimal's Black Pepper Chicken Curry, which originally appeared in her second cookbook, Savoring the Spice Coast of India and was reprinted in an article in Food and Wine Magazine. We had it with some steamed basmati rice, and I pulled out some leftover corn on the cob to use in a recipe from Sunset magazine for spicy corn and mustard seeds. The curry has coconut milk in it, so the heaviness of the wine and he creaminess of the curry's sauce were well-matched. And the balance of sweetness and acidity in the wine was just right for the rich spiciness of the dishes.

This is the second Rhone white that I thought would pair well with Indian food (the other was a Kris Curran Grenache Blanc). So if you've never been drawn to riesling and gewurztraminer, but want wine that goes with curry, don't be afraid to try another aromatic white. You may make an Indian food and wine find, too.

12 comments:

Orion Slayer said...

I tried the Treana Mer Soleil last year at a wine tasting and liked it so much I bought a bottle. It tasted great and I really enjoyed the mouth feel. It's too bad that restaurants the feature great authentic Indian, Thai or Jamaican food don't serve great wines like this. Maybe the take out option is the way to go for me!

Have you tried the Treana Red (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot)? It's supposed to be a "full-bodied, dry wine, firm in dusty tannins, and with pronounced blackberry and cola flavors." Definetely not a QPR though at $45!

Richard A. said...

I enjoy chilled Japanese Sake with spicy food, like a good Vindaloo. The bit of sweetness of many Sakes often pairs well with the spicy flavors.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi Orion Slayer. As you know, I always love to hear that my palate coincides with someone else's on this. I agree on that mouthfeel thing--so unexpected and so good with a rich curry. I've not had the red--and if I saw it I'd probably go right past it at $45! And Richard A., I've never thought of sake. What a great idea. I'm going to have to give it a try.

monkuboy said...

Hi Deb, could you please tell from which Costco the Treana Mer Soleil was purchased? Thanks!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi, Monkuboy. I got it in the Alhambra Costco but sadly it was in January so I doubt they still have it. Worth a check, though!

David said...

oh yes, has to be wine with Indian food. I've been going for rieslings of late with it, sometimes a viogner too. I hadn't been too keen on Rhone whites until I had 2005 Chateau Pesquie Quintessence the other night at food & wine pairing dinner, and it was very good. I could see it working with Indian too.

monkuboy said...

Thanks, Deb.. I don't recall seeing it at Alhambra (for sure Burbank doesn't have it) and I'm pretty sure I would have noticed something like that since it isn't your usual chardonnay. But I'm headed over to the Alhambra store after work today so I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi, David. Glad I'm not the only one who finds Indian food and wine pairing an exciting prospect. Have you had a gewurz with Indian? Worth a try.

Good luck monkuboy! They're probably long gone, but maybe?

mmblz said...

Just had Indian food last night, and chose Robert Sinskey Abraxas. A bit over $20, but I thought it was a pretty darn good match...

http://www.robertsinskey.com/?pid=672

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome, mmblz. I don't know that wine, but I will keep my eye out for it. One of the best things about posting on Indian food and wine is that I always get lots of good tips on wines to try!

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S.P.Mulligan said...

I recently had a Virginia Norton from Barrel Oak Winery that had some a chocolaty smoothness to ease the spice. It worked well.

http://www.thefreewineblog.com/