From Malaysia and Thailand to Indonesia and India, curry is a popular dish in Asia. However, most of us have a soft drink or beer to wash down our curry, especially the spicy ones. However, too much beer or soda can makes the stomach bloat because of the carbonation, and a lot of people don’t like this feeling. So is there any wine that pairs well with our beloved curry?

Food and wine pairing is about matching the intensity and weight of the food with wine, not the colour of the meat. Matching curry and wine follows the same concept, and in the case of curry, it’s mostly about the sauce. Another factor is the spiciness of the curry and how much heat one can stand. Wine can tone down or enhance a curry’s spiciness.

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Curry tends to be creamy and oily, so wine with acidity is a better match because the acidity can cut through the curry’s oiliness, helping digestion. On the other hand, tannin tends to clash with the spices and exaggerate the heat, so a heavily oaked or high-tannin wine may not be an ideal curry partner. In a nutshell, white wines and fruity red wines are the best choices for curry.

Curry dishes use a lot of different spices, and fruitiness in wine complements these aromatic spices. The fragrant lemongrass and lime used in Thai curries go exceptionally well with citrus-focused Riesling and herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc. Other aromatic white wines such as Gewürztraminer, Torrontés, Viognier and Albariño are equally well suited to the clove, cumin, ginger and coriander used in many curry sauces. Lighter-weight curries can be paired with light-bodied wines such as Australian Riesling or German Kabinett while creamier and heavier Malaysian and Indian curries would be better matched with fuller-bodied Viognier or Torrontés. Refreshing Chenin Blanc from South Africa ranges from light to full bodied and can accompany a wide range of curry dishes. Mr & Mrs Fox will prepare the South African favourite bunny chow (meat curry served in a bread bowl) during the month of April. Try it for yourself to see if they match.

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Fruity white wine also gives the perception of sweetness so can soothe the chilli heat. However, if you really cannot take a lot of chilli, an off-dry or even sweet white wine will help you to enjoy a curry without feeling the burn. A German Spätlese or Auslese or a Gewürztraminer will do the trick.

If you prefer red wine, there are plenty of choices including Gamay (Beaujolais from France), Grenache, Mencia from Spain and Valpolicella from Italy. Pinot Noir with its pleasant red fruit aromas, low tannin and various body weights (depending on the origin and producer) is a near universal red wine for curry, although I don’t recommend Burgundy because of its subtle flavour.

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Food and wine pairing is not black and white. A few friends are fans of hot and spicy food, and they love having a big red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz to make the dishes ever hotter. Still, they stick with young New World red wines because they are generally riper in style with smooth tannins.

Next time you have curry for dinner, check out the wine list!

A marketer turned winemaker, I make, promote, judge, write about and drink wine.

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