Sometimes food and drink go together so well that each makes the other shine and brings out the best in both. When that happens, we have a “perfect pairing.” One such perfect pairing is Indian food and the white wine Gewürztraminer. I love Indian food for its amazing blend of aromatic spices that provide tantalizing smells and bold flavors. Most commonly, Indian food includes cumin, coriander, mustard seed, fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and chili pepper. Vegetarians in particular have good reason to appreciate Indian food, because these spices allow dishes made entirely with vegetables to burst with flavor and distinctiveness.
Just because Indian food is spicy does not necessarily mean it is hot. Indian restaurants throughout the U.S. will typically let you choose how hot (how much chili pepper) you want in your dishes. Well-made Indian dishes have lots of spicy flavor, even when they aren’t very hot. And whether your Indian food is hot or not, Gewürztraminer wines pair amazingly well with them. Gewürztraminer most closely resembles the more popular wine variety Riesling, but typically is a bit less acidic and presents notes of rose petal and spice.
Enjoyed together, Indian food and Gewürztraminer bring out the best in both. The spices, particularly the turmeric and fresh ginger, that are used to make so much Indian food make the rose petal flavors of Gewürztraminer bolder and more pronounced. When the Indian food is not just spicy but hot, the rose petal flavors can help tame it. Moreover, the chile pepper flavor in Indian food brings out the spiciness in Gewürztraminer. Chefs have long known that a particular wine pairs well with food made from the same wine. Similarly, the spiciness of Indian food complements the spicy character of some Gewürztraminers.
The enjoy this pairing best, you will want to choose your Indian food and Gewürztraminers according to your personal preferences. If you do not like hot food, you will want to order your Indian food mild and consider pairing it with an Alsatian Gewürztraminer, for they often highlight the rose petal character of the grape. One fine, widely available example is Trimbach’s Gewürztraminer and it couples fantastically with many vegetarian Indian options. If, on the other hand, you like your Indian food hot, try coupling your blazing Chicken Vindaloo with a Washington Gewürztraminer like Château St. Michelle. The pairing brings out the bright spiciness in the wine while slightly taming the heat of the Indian food and bringing its range of flavors to the fore.
To make things even better, Indian cuisine and Gewürztraminer are relatively inexpensive food and drink options. Both are delicious, and together they make magic.