The 7 BEST Wine Pairings With Indian Food

wine pairings with indian food

Quick Answer: Riesling and Prosecco both have high acidity levels and a touch of sweetness that complement the bold flavors and spices in many Indian dishes. Plus, the effervescence in Prosecco also helps to cleanse the palate between bites. And for a red wine, Merlot has fruit-forward flavors and a soft tannin structure, which makes it a good match for dishes that have tomato-based sauces. Also, its smoothness helps to balance out the heat in some Indian dishes.

One of my favorite cuisines is Indian food! I love it’s vibrant colors that are full of intense flavors and spices. However, it can be difficult to find wine pairings with Indian food. Because these strong flavors may either highlight or overpower the taste of any given wine.

Therefore, wine pairings with Indian food can be a tricky task. However, with some basic knowledge about the characteristics of different types of wine and the flavors of Indian food, it is possible to find a perfect match.

So in this article, we will explore the principles of wine pairing with Indian food.

Table of Contents

Tips For Pairing Wine With Indian Food

With some basic knowledge and guidelines, you can find a perfect wine to complement your Indian meal. Here are some Indian food wine pairing tips:

  1. Match intensity with intensity – Pair bold red wines with spicy and heavy dishes such as lamb or beef curry.
  2. Look for fruity and aromatic white wines – White wines with a bit of sweetness or fruitiness can complement the spice and heat of Indian food. Some good choices are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Chenin Blanc.
  3. Consider the sauce – The sauce or gravy in Indian dishes can have a significant impact on wine pairing. Creamy sauces like butter chicken or korma go well with Chardonnay or Viognier, while tomato-based sauces like chicken tikka masala well with red wines like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. And for spicy sauces like vindaloo, you should stay away from high alcohol, unless you like lots of spice. Because the alcohol will accentuate the heat of the spice. 
  4. Try sparkling wine – Sparkling wines can be an excellent choice for Indian cuisine. Because the effervescence can help cut through the richness of the food.
  5. Experiment with rose wines – Also, light-bodied and crisp rose wines are versatile. And they can pair well with a variety of Indian dishes. So look for rose wines with fruit-forward flavors like strawberry or raspberry.
  6. Go for off-dry wines – Off-dry or slightly sweet wines like Moscato or Riesling can tame the spiciness of Indian food. However, be careful not to choose a wine that is too sweet as it can clash with the spice.

7 Best Wines To Pair With Indian Food

Below we list our favorite wines to pair with Indian food, as well as a few suggestions of outstanding pairings.

1) Riesling

chateau ste michelle Riesling tasting notes

The most popular wine pairing with Indian food. Because Riesling is a versatile wine that pairs well with a range of Indian dishes, especially those with spicy, sweet, or sour flavors. The acidity and sweetness of Riesling help to balance the heat and spice in Indian dishes, while the floral and fruity notes complement the complex flavors of Indian cuisine.

  • Chicken tikka masala: This classic Indian dish has a rich tomato-based sauce with a mild spice level. Riesling’s acidity helps to cut through the creamy sauce, while its sweetness complements the dish’s tomato flavor.
  • Vindaloo or Any spicy curry: This fiery and tangy curry features meat (usually pork or lamb) in a spicy vinegar-based sauce. Riesling’s sweetness and acidity help to tame the dish’s heat and tanginess.

2) Prosecco

prosecco vs moscato comparison

Prosecco has a bright and refreshing acidity that pairs well with spicy and flavorful Indian dishes. In addition, the acidity helps to cut through the rich flavors, while the slightly sweeter taste of the bubbly will balance out the heat of the spices.

Furthermore, the bubbles in Prosecco provide a refreshing and cleansing effect on the palate, which helps to enhance the flavors of Indian dishes.

This sparkling wine is light and refreshing and pairs well with appetizers and spicy snacks. It goes well with papadums, chutneys, and pickles.

  • Samosas: The light and crispy texture of samosas pairs well with the effervescence of Prosecco, while the spices in the samosas are balanced out by the wine’s acidity.
  • Tandoori chicken: The bold flavors of tandoori chicken are balanced out by the lightness of Prosecco. The wine’s bubbles also help to cleanse the palate between bites.
  • Butter chicken: The wine’s acidity can cut through the creaminess of the sauce.

3) Merlot

Emmolo Merlot tasting notes

Merlot is a medium-bodied red wine with a smooth, velvety texture. Therefore, it has enough body and weight to stand up to the bold flavors of Indian spices without overpowering them.

Plus, Merlot has relatively low tannins compared to other red wines, which makes it a good choice for complementing the spiciness of Indian dishes. Finally, Merlot has a range of dark fruit flavors that allow the savory and smoky elements of Indian dishes to shine.

  • Lamb vindaloo: The spicy, smoky, and tangy flavors of lamb vindaloo are allowed to stand out when paired with Merlot.
  • Palak paneer: The rich and creamy spinach sauce in palak paneer pairs well with the velvety texture and fruity flavors of Merlot.
  • Chicken tikka masala: The bold and rich tomato flavors of chicken tikka masala are complemented by the soft tannins and fruity flavors of Merlot.

4) Pinot Noir

Merlot vs Pinot Noir Comparison

Pinot Noir is a light to medium-bodied wine, which means it has enough body and weight to stand up to the bold flavors of Indian spices without overpowering them.

Also, Pinot Noir has relatively low tannins and lower alcohol compared to other red wines. Therefore they won’t amplify the heat on the spices, while allowing the bold flavors to shine.

Furthermore, it has a range of fruity and earthy flavors, that complement the complex and bold flavors of Indian cuisine

Here are some popular Indian dishes that pair well with Pinot Noir:

  • Chicken korma: The creamy and nutty flavors of chicken korma pair well with the lightness and dark fruit flavors of Pinot Noir.
  • Chicken tikka: The smoky and earthy spiced flavors of chicken tikka are complemented by the earthy and fruity flavors of Pinot Noir.
  • Vegetable biryani: The complex flavors and textures of vegetable biryani are balanced out by the earthy flavors of Pinot Noir, making for a delicious and well-rounded pairing.

5) Syrah/Shiraz

syrah vs shiraz grape

Shiraz is a full-bodied wine with rich, bold flavors that can stand up to the bold and spicy flavors of Indian dishes. Also, it has spicy and peppery flavors, which complement the complex and bold flavors of Indian dishes.

Lastly, Shiraz has tannins that generally range from medium to high. And this could add more spiciness to the dish, which can be good or bad depending on your preference. However, it can also make certain spicy dishes seem overbearing or even bring out a hint of bitterness. 

  • Rogan josh: The rich and bold flavors of rogan josh are complemented by the full-bodied and spicy flavors of Shiraz.
  • Lamb biryani: The complex flavors and textures along with the gamey notes of lamb biryani are complemented by the full-bodied, earthy and peppery flavors of Shiraz.
  • Tandoori lamb chops: The smoky and spicy flavors of tandoori lamb chops are enhanced by the bold and intense flavors of Shiraz.

6) Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine, which means it has a strong and distinctive aroma that can complement the bold and spicy aromas of Indian dishes. Also it has spicy flavors, such as ginger and cinnamon, that will bring out actual ginger notes used in a dish.

Furthermore, Gewürztraminer is often slightly sweet, which can help to tame the bold and spicy flavors of Indian dishes.

  • Chicken tikka masala: This classic Indian recipe has a creamy, vibrant tomato-based sauce with an invitingly mild spiciness. An aromatic Gewürztraminer pairs perfectly to this dish; its natural acidity will help balance out the richness while enhancing the sweetness of the tomatoes.
  • Vindaloo or Any spicy curry: This mouthwatering curry in a spicy vinegar-based sauce will be balanced out by the off-dry sweetness and acidity of Gewürztraminer.

7) Zinfandel

best zinfandel tasting notes

Zinfandel has bold and jammy fruit flavors that can stand up to the bold and complex flavors of Indian dishes. The fruit-forward flavors will perfectly complement the dishes. And much like Shiraz, there is a peppery undertone that enhances the spices of the Indian cuisine.

  • Tandoori Chicken: The smoky, spicy flavors of tandoori chicken pair well with the bold fruit forward flavors and medium tannins of Zinfandel.
  • Lamb Rogan Josh: The rich, spicy flavors of lamb rogan josh can be balanced out by the fruit and spice notes of Zinfandel.

Most Popular Indian Food

wine pairings with indian food
  1. Butter Chicken – Also known as Murgh Makhani, this dish features chicken cooked in a creamy tomato and butter based sauce with a blend of spices and herbs.
  2. Biryani – A flavorful and aromatic dish made with basmati rice, meat (chicken, lamb, or beef), and spices such as saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  3. Palak Paneer – A vegetarian dish made with cheese in puréed spinach sauce.
  4. Tandoori Chicken – Chicken marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in a clay oven (tandoor) until tender and juicy.
  5. Rogan Josh – A Kashmiri-style dish made with lamb, yogurt, and spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and cumin.
  6. Vindaloo – A spicy and tangy Goan-style curry made with pork, vinegar, and a blend of aromatic spices.
  7. Samosas – A savory pastry filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and sometimes meat, fried until crispy and served as an appetizer or snack.
  8. Chicken Tikka Masala – Boneless chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, grilled and served in a creamy tomato-based sauce with aromatic spices such as cumin and coriander.


What Red Wine Goes Well With Indian Food?

Red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot are excellent choices to pair with Indian food. The bold flavors of these wines can stand up to the intense flavors of Indian food.

What White Wine Goes Well With Indian Food?

White wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling are also suitable for pairing with Indian food. The acidity in white wines can help cut through the richness of Indian curries and sauces, while the fruity notes can complement the subtle flavors of the food. White wines can pair well with dishes such as biryani, fish curry, and vegetable korma.

Does Rose Wine Go Well With Indian Food?

Rose wines, which have a lighter body and crisp acidity, can also work well with spicy Indian food. The refreshing and fruity flavors of Rose wine can complement the heat and complexity of Indian spices.

What Sparkling Wine Goes Well With Indian Food?

Sparkling wines such as Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava are also an excellent choice for pairing with Indian food. The effervescence of sparkling wine can help balance the richness of Indian cuisine and cleanses the palate after each bite.

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