How to Pair Indian Food with Wine, Beer and Cocktails

Indian dishes are often well-balanced, and it may not seem like they need the added flavor of a drink, but we spoke with a few experts who all agreed that no matter your preferred beverage there's always a perfect pairing.
Photo by Shea Evans

Whether you enjoy Indian food at a buffet or an elegant restaurant, you’ve probably wondered what to sip with it. The dishes tend to be pretty balanced and might not need the acidity or bitterness that wine or beer can offer. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t enhance the dining experience.

To prove it, we picked a few typical types of dishes and sought pairings from an esteemed panel of experts: Rich Higgins, a Master Cicerone; Michael Dolinski, sommelier at Junoon in New York City; and Vishvas, bar manager at Rooh in San Francisco.

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Tandoori-Roasted Meats

Beer: Consider a saison, like Saison Dupont, says Higgins. It’s refreshing to cut the fattiness of the meat, but it also offers fruit and spice in its own right.

Wine: Reach for Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Verdelho, which tend to have stone fruit flavors, as well as Scheurebe, for its oily character and funky smokiness.

Creamy Curries

Beer: Lagers are a good bet, according to Higgins. They’re smooth and bready, with maltiness to cut through richness. A Pilsner or a Munich-style pale helles also works.

Wine: Red wine with a good balance of tannin and acidity is necessary here. Dolinski recommends Syrah from Northern Rhône or California, or Austrian Blaufränkisch.

Mild Vegetable-Paneer Dishes

Beer: Higgins likes to pair mild, malty porter with many kinds of vegetable dishes, especially when there are warm spices like garam masala in the preparation.

Cocktail: Rooh makes a chai punch with Assam tea and grapefruit shrub that goes well with vegetarian dishes. Vishvas recommends pairing similarly tangy, tannic cocktails at home.

Spicy Vindaloos

Cocktail: Vishvas opts for something crisp and fresh, with some spice to it. A mango mule, with the tart fruit and spicy ginger beer, for example, would be ideal.

Wine: Dolinski recommends the aromatic, tropical-tinged Grüner Veltliner with leaner proteins, and says fuller-bodied Loire Valley Chenin Blanc is also a safe bet with anything spicy.

Published on April 4, 2018
Topics: Food



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