Friday, October 27, 2006

Indian Food and Wine

Last night I cooked Keralan food from South India using Maya Kaimal's excellent Curried Favors. I wasn't able to find any of the recipes I used online, but if you want to check out Maya's accessible approach to Indian food, you can go to the Rachael Ray magazine website (she's everywhere!) and see her recipe for curried chicken. We had lots of fun with our belated Diwali festival (missed it by a few days!), eating shrimp thiyal and cabbage thoren with some eggplant curry and lamb korma.

But the menu did pose problems for someone like me who prefers wine to beer. I know that beer is supposedly best. I was told this by the guys at Chronicle Wine Cellar, who tried to persuade me not to buy wine that day. But I think gewurztraminer and rieslings do work well with curries, so I asked the Chronicle Wine staff for a recommendation and they suggested I try either the 2003 Chateau d'Orschwihr Gewurztraminer Bollenberg ($14.95) or the NV Cavit Prosecco Lunetta ($7.95). I bought both, to try out a little experiment.

We opened both before dinner, and I had sips of both before eating. I was extremely impressed by the NV Cavit Prosecco Lunetta, which I think had excellent QPR. It was fresh and round on the palate, and the nicely bubbling glass was pleasantly refreshing. It was toasty and a bit yeasty, with I found a nice counterpoint to the typical lemony essence of prosecco. Sometimes a prosecco at this price point can be a bit harsh and acidic, but not this one. With the food it stood up to the strong flavors without overwhelming them, and while I've never had a sparkling wine with Indian food after this I have to say that prosecco was a great recommendation. I wouldn't necessarily pull out your finest French vintage champagne, but the prosecco was very good indeed. This Lunetta would be an excellent holiday pour, good with a variety of foods and extremely affordable. Striking label, too. Thanksgiving?

On to the 2003 Chateau d'Orschwihr Gewurztraminer Bollenberg, which I rank as having good QPR. (here's a label shot from an earlier vintage--but the label looks the same). I'm not as familiar with Alsatian Gewurztraminer, which is less dry than new world bottlings. It was deep and golden in the glass, and had really interesting honey, peach, and apricot aromas. The first sip, without food, was over the top and sweet. This is definitely an off-dry wine. With the food however, espeically the highly seasoned cabbage and some spicy chutneys, this wine was very nice. But I did feel that it may be overwhelming the food, rather than complementing it. I found it interesting that the CWCellar staff felt that riesling was too lean and wouldn't stand up to the food as well as the gewurztraminer.

So the jury is still out on Indian food and wine. I have yet to feel like I know the wine to go to--never mind the maker--when I'm thinking of cooking up a Keralan feast like this. Any readers with suggestions or recommendations, please leave a comment.


750 mL said...

I have quite a fondness for Loire chenin blanc, whether sweet or dry, for pairing with most Indian food.

Dr. Debs said...

Great suggestion, Nilay. I love chenin blanc, but have never had one with an Indian meal. Gives me a great excuse to cook some more Indian and try it out.

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