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Pair made in heaven

Pair made in heaven
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Wine by itself can taste good, but with food as partner it can reach amazing heights This is a pairing made in heaven if you understand each of them...

Wine by itself can taste good, but with food as partner it can reach amazing heights. This is a pairing made in heaven if you understand each of them correctly. Not all foods go well with every wine. Here are some tips that will help you enjoy both at the table.

The Food Options
The best way to plan a pairing is to go with local produce and local ingredients, where you do not have to worry about availability. This concept existed in the past when all the produce of a place or region got used up in the same area and reduced the carbon footprint in a big way. Let’s move to this idea and pair our Indian home food like Kadhi Chawal, Dal Makhani, Poriyal, Thalipeeth, Biryanis, Momos or Chicken stew with locally made wines from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.

White wine with white meat and red wine with red meat has been the oft repeated clichéd pairing combination. However, in India meat consumption is limited and there is a vast array and variety of vegetables and preparations. Any described pairing may not be a standard pairing as same Indian food available will vary.

In most Indian restaurants versions of the food may predominantly be oily, greasy and spicy hot while the same at home would be much milder. The latter is much easier to pair with wine. Avoid pairing hot and spicy food with wine as it will kill the flavours of wine; it is better to drink water or beer along with such food.

Golden Rules
First identify the common traits in the wine and the food like acid and sweetness, followed by density and texture of food. For example, a Gujarati kadhi will go well with an off dry Chenin Blanc with fruity aromas. The mild sweetness of kadhi and acid from yoghurt will complement similar characters from the wine. If it is a drier style of kadhi with coriander and a little spice, a more neutral white wine like Sauvignon Blanc will be a good match.

Rose wines generally pair well with most curries having some heat. In many cases, if common qualities do not exist, contrasting traits can also work. A rich creamy dish can be paired by neutral light wines with high acid. Fried fish, vada -pav or vegetable fritters can match with light, fresh, aromatic wines made from Riesling.

Protein rich food like Rajma and Chhole can work with light bodied and soft fruity reds like Madhura Cabernet Shiraz. Richer textured foods like dal makhani or pav bhaji pair well with very lean and light neutral reds. Pulaos, Biryanis go well with light reds from Zinfandel or Nero d’Avola.

Stews from Kerala can pair with some wine coolers or light spritzy wines. Pairing Indian desserts with wine can be difficult as most are sugary sweet and made from milk or milk based ingredients. Sweets made from flour and coated with syrup like balushahi, lavanga-latika or even sutarfeni can pair better with some sweet late harvest wines or sweet wines.

Keep Experimenting
There are no rights or wrongs and the best way to learn is by trying different combinations. Experiment with different foods and different wines and you will eventually get the hang of it. Though there are guidelines, even sommeliers –the specialists in this profession have learnt it the hard way. Make your own rules and come up with the best pairing!

Ajoy Shaw - The writer is an Independent Consultant Winemaker and Wine Professional. He is also the consultant for Hyderabad-based Asav Wines.

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