Personal Skill Development

Portuguese White Wine: A Blessing or a Disaster?

Portuguese White Wine: What’s a good beverage that conjures up in your cerebral cortex when you think of Indian food? I can bet you it’s not even alcohol that first comes to your mind. Who in their right minds can pair a spicy lamb vindaloo or a creamy, rich vegetable korma with any spirits? Aren’t they already scorching enough to light up our guts that we need to add more fuel of fermented grapes? Isn’t mango lassi or chilled water all one can take with these savory curries?

Turns out India has had a long love affair with wine. The Persians brought viticulture to the Indus valley during the 4th century B.C. The Vedic holy scriptures even make references to a rice wine fermented with honey called sura. The Portuguese brought the ports and fortified wines. The Dutch picked up the baton, grew more grapes in the south west regions of India. Had the phylloxera insect not preyed upon half of the world’s grape vines during the 18th and 19th centuries, India would have been producing sommelier samurais by the millions! Not all hope is lost, nevertheless. India has made a mighty comeback in the past decade.

Everyone knows the old adage that reds go with meats and white wine with fish. But what about the vegetables? India cooks over 55 versions of lentils across the country. Most vegetarian dishes have layers of sweet, spicy and salty flavors.

Below are 3 most favorable wines that my friends and I have found to work well with the spicy dishes. Enjoy!


One of the most flavorful, fruity and aromatic white wines of the world. Depending on your palate, you can choose from a bone dry Riesling from Washington, New York or Trocken (dry) Germany or a sweet one from any regular German Rieslings that don’t say Trocken on the label. Upstate New York produces respectable, drinkable and very reasonably priced Rieslings. Hot, zesty curries need a cool balancer which this wine provides. Rieslings greatly compliment spicy food notes and allow you to experience each ingredient on its own turf.

Don’t drink your white wines too chilled as the practice masks the amazing aromas of the wine. Just pull out the chilled wine from the refrigerator and let it chill out on the counter top for a few minutes before the pour. Look out for a dry Riesling called SURU from Long Island or a semi-sweet Kabinett Riesling from Germany. Affordable and delicious!


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