I was contacted recently by Warren Edwardes, a London-based wine-lover and curry fancier, who has begun a brand new wine business, designing and importing a small range of wines
specifically chosen for the ability to match with Indian and other spicy cuisines. He has formed his company, Wine for
Spice and currently has a small range of wines on trial in the capital before a national roll-out.
He sent me the first three wines in the range to try. Each is produced in Spain, and each is gently sparkling (more pétillant than fizzy). The idea is that this adds a dimension of refreshing spritz
which suits spicy food, without the gaseous overload of lager. Two of the three wines are off-dry, again in the belief that a little sweetness works as a contrast to chilli and spice.
Edwardes says he carried out extensive tasting research with Portuguese Vinhos Verdes, Italian Frizzantes and French Crémant wines amongst others before coming across the
Vinos de Aguja wines of northern Spain, close cousins of Vinho Verde, but made from indigenous Spanish grapes like Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo and Tempranillo. The "gold"
also has Muscat in the blend, and the rosé is made from Garnacha and Tempranillo.
|Though Edwardes gives quite specific spicy cuisine matching advice for each of his
wines, I first tasted the wines on their own, then drank a small glass of each along with vegetable pakora and a chicken rogan josh from Glasgow's excellent
Shish Mahal Indian restaurant. Much to my surprise, I felt the dry white was the easily best match overall, having previously found semi-sweet examples to be ideal partners if drinking
white wine with curry. All three wines have only around 11%-11.5% alcohol, making them easy to drink in sufficient volume to quench ones thirst with a spicy meal.
Tasted objectively on their own, I guess none of these wines would earn more than a "good but not great" rating, but matching wine to spicy food is a very tricky challenge, and
one where Edwardes has succeeded.
Edwardes has done a great job in choosing wines that are very specifically suited task, with the crispness and freshness that is needed, and the fruit profile to match a variety
of spicy cusines styles, not just Indian, but Chinese, Thai, Mexican and more. His project deserves success. It is initially aimed at the restaurant sector, but private case sales are no doubt possible. The wines
have retail price of £5.99.
Viceroy White (Spain) Semi-sparkling dry
Very pale, almost transparent colour. The nose has some gentle floral notes, and a core of crisp green apple. On the palate it is dry and slightly sherbetty, with crisp, tangy lemony and tart green apple flavours that are zesty and bright. I thought it worked extremely well with the rogan josh in particular, with the zippy acidity freshening the palate, and the fruity flavours enhancing the curry. Very good indeed.