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Pair fruity reds with hot curries

I simply adore Chinese food and eat it all the time. Frequently, I also enjoy fine Western cuisine. But when I want something totally different, my first choice is Indian cooking for its special techniques and exotic spices. And I especially favor spicy dishes.

Many a gourmet would suggest beer with spicy dishes. The problem is that I hate beer! As you can tell from my articles, I am a staunch believer in wine going best with practically everything. Allow me to establish a few simple principles for pairing wine with Indian dishes. Bold dishes (this also applies to Sri Lankan and Pakistani fare) need an equally strong wine so the food doesn't overpower the wine. Also, the spiciness and sensation of heat in the mouth can be accentuated by some alcoholic beverages including wine, so the right wine should have a high degree of fruitiness and even a touch of sweetness to offset the spiciness and soothe the palate.

When enjoying a classic southern dish like chicken or lamb marsala, try the Shaw and Smith Shiraz, a smooth rich-flavored red from the Adelaide Hills of southern Australia. Or the Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec, a lovely balanced red from Mendoza, Argentina. The robust ripe fruit flavors of both wines stand up to the spiciness while embellishing the overall experience.

The La Crema Sonoma County Syrah offers deep, almost sweet dark flavors that complement many curries. This generous, smooth wine highlights, but doesn't heighten the spices. In all cases when serving red wines with generously spiced dishes, remember to chill the wine to around 14-16 degrees Centigrade - to further assuage any burning sensation.

Let me go out on a limb and also suggest a top single malt whisky with some Indian dishes. Since days of the British Raj, whisky has been a preferred beverage of the Indian elite. The key when pairing whisky with Indian dishes is to pick a generously flavored, fruity and mellow whisky like The Singleton of Glen Ord 12YO or 18 YO. I suggest a few ice cubes to chill and dilute the alcohol.


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