Top 7 wines to go with curry

Cathy Marston debunks a common misconception and shares some great wines.

by: Cathy Marston | 02 May 2012
7 wines for curry's

Curry is a tricky thing to pair with wine – many people believe you should just not bother at all and stick to beer, and perhaps they have a point there. But if you give it a little thought and are prepared to try wines a little outside the norm, then you can have some memorable meals.

A couple of points to remember:

Not all curries are equal! A rich, creamy Indian curry is a very different proposition from a fragrant, aromatic curry from Thailand. Remember to match the ‘weight’ of the food to the intensity of the wine – a rich dish needs a bigger, more robust drink to stand up to the flavours.

The old rhyme ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’ really does come into play here – wines with a touch of sweetness (either real or perceived) handle heat and spice much better than bone-dry wines.

Finally - in your haste to cool down your mouth, don’t forget that wine is generally 12-14% alcohol! If you knock it back as if it were cool drink, you’re in for far worse than a bout of Delhi belly so make sure you have some water on the table as well.

Gives these a try!

Vondeling Petit Blanc 2011 (R34.99 from Ultra Liquors)

This is an excellently-priced wine with a lot more fruit than you might expect to get for the money. It’s a blend of Chenin, Viognier and Chardonnay and it’s the peachy viognier which gives the overall impression of sweetness and makes this a great curry wine. Don’t overwhelm it by anything too hot, but a nice, mild Cape Malay Chicken washed down by a bottle or two of this = great evening.

Hartenberg Riesling 2010 (R58.99 from Ultra Liquors)

Gotta have a Riesling in here – and it doesn’t come much better than this one, hotfoot from its success at the Le Grand Concours du Monde where it gained top honours in front of many other better-known Riesling producers. A wonderfully balanced wine with acidity, sweet yellow fruit, fat texture and clean, fresh finish all combine to make a fantastic drink. Like the new label too.

Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2009 (R63.99 from Ultra Liquors)

I was very tempted to suggest this farm’s Grenache, made from some of the oldest Grenache vines in the country, but settled on this slightly off-dry Chenin, packed with flavours of apricots, poached pears, almonds and orange peel. This is a much richer wine than the Vondeling and can handle something fairly robust, but the nutty flavours make me think of a Korma or a creamy Lamb Pasanda instead.

Arendsig Wild Yeast Chardonnay 2011 (R75 from the cellar)

Lourens van der Westhuizen makes some lovely wines out in Robertson – and quite a few of them as well for a variety of different friends and neighbours! This Chardonnay is a hand-crafted labour of love with every detail considered at every stage. A touch of oak – none of it new – adds a creamy roundness to the wine and I would look for a fragrant and aromatic match here such as a Thai Green Curry or perhaps a good seafood chowder instead.

Oldenburg Chenin Blanc 2011 (R118 from the cellar)

This is the only Chenin Blanc produced in the Banghoek Valley and, since the previous vintage sold out some time ago, the new one has been eagerly awaited by many Chenin lovers worldwide. It was launched a week or so ago, served with Italian food, but I see no reason why the ripe yellow-apple fruit couldn’t cope with a bit of heat, especially when you consider it has a mouth-filling 14% Chardonnay to help round out the middle. Delish.

Secret Cellar Reserve Shiraz 2007 (R29.99 from Ultra Liquors)

This is one of the own-label ranges of Ultra Liquors and canny Mark Norrish, the wine buyer, won’t let anyone know where it comes from. Not at all surprised either – this is so good, I’m amazed he doesn’t just drink it all himself. Nice spicy fruit, very soft juicy tannins, sweet black berries – should definitely handle a curry and probably a lot more besides.

Ken Forrester Petit Pinotage 2010 (R38 from most major retailers)

There are now 3 wines in the ‘Petit’ range – more on the others later – but this is the one I would choose to have with curry. Why? Well, because there’s no oak in this wine and it is deliberately made in a fresh and fruity style, so is a surefire match for spicy food. Try chilling it a little before serving it and give it a go with something fruity and fiery.


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