I had the good fortune of being a house guest at Sula Vineyards founder-CEO Rajeev Samant's cottage in his Nashik winery not too long ago. One night, we opened a bottle of his yet-to-be-launched flagship Dindori Shiraz, and paired it with the Kolhapuri chicken and phulkas we had for dinner. This is one wine-paired meal that has stuck in my memory.
One of the most divisive issues among Indian foodies is pairing our meals with wine. The quest to join the two began in London when 'curry restaurants' evolved into hipper avatars to distance themselves from their old patrons-the rednecks who doused their gastric vindaloofueled fires with chilled beer. To woo deeper pockets, they started to invest in wine lists.
Of course it wasn't easy. For example, English wine writer Charles Metcalf, tried 27,000 pairings over seven months with his wife Kathryn before they wrote their pocket guide for a UK supermarket chain. And that was for relatively bland British food. The matrix is infinitely more complicated for Indian dishes, what with their mind-boggling range of spices and cuisines. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Here are five combinations that work well.
Sula Vineyards Dindori Shiraz 2010 The grapes of this voluptuous red grow in Dindori taluka in Nashik. Its berry flavours and silky tannins go well with dal makhni, shahi paneer, seekh kebabs and of course Kolhapuri chicken. Try and serve at 16-18 C.
Fratelli Wines Sette 2009 This red from Akluj in Maharashtra by Italian master Piero Masi balances the fruitiness of a Cabernet Sauvignon, floral notes of Sangiovese and vanilla flavours from the French oak it matures in. Perfect for your mutton korma and kathal biryani. Serve at 16-18 C. Grover Vineyards Art Collection Viognier 2010 This pleasant white bears aromas of peach, apricot and tropical fruits complimented by floral notes and hint of honey. Just what you'd want with your garlicky yellow dal, or a Parsi dhansak. Serve at 8-10 C.
Sula Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2011 This crispy white is a nobrainer when paired with Indian food. Enjoy it with a malai murgh tikka, a prawn xacuti, or even a tomato pappu. Serve at 8-10 C.
Fratelli Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Aromas of black cherries and plums strike as you nose this deep red, fruit forward wine with a decently finish. Pair it with your mutton burra, chicken changezi and mixed vegetable jhalfrezi. Serve at 16-18 C.Sourish Bhattacharyya, Food and Wine Writer