What wines should you match with curry? By Kerstin Rodgers (aka MsMarmiteLover)

curry 2


This is probably one of the hardest food matches with wine. Curry can so easily overwhelm or clash with a wine. Often I’ve plumped for lager, which is thirst quenching, cooling and cuts through the heavy spicing and sauces of curries.

The other classic option is to go for a white wine but be aware that certain white wines just curl up and die when confronted with the big flavours of Indian cooking.

Years ago I spent a few months in India; it was the longest time I ever went without drinking. Eventually, positively keening for some booze, I bought a local Indian wine. It was undrinkable, tasting like a particularly rough sweet sherry with an aftertaste of manure.

Things have changed, however. Now the Indian wine industry is improving rapidly, I’ve heard wine experts claim that by 2050, India will be producing top notch wines to rival European ones. John Valentine, who owns Winetrust100.co.uk is about to list an Indian wine, so watch out for that.

This month I’m going to suggest a few wines from the Winetrust100 site to match with curry and I’m also going to give you the most amazing Goan fish curry recipe. I made this dish last night for a few friends and we ploughed through several wines (dirty job but someone’s gotta do it) to see what went with what.

Goa is a former Portuguese colony in India and, coincidentally, one of the best matches was a Portuguese vinho verde, sharp enough to cut through the coconut and ghee, bold enough to stand up to the chillis. 2013 Soalheiro Alvarinho, Portugal, £15, 12.5% .

We also enjoyed a Pinot Grigio with the food. Now normally this is a light summery lunch time wine with, say, a subtle fish dish but this high quality Pinot Grigio stood up well to this fish curry. 2013 Pinot Grigio, Ponte Del Diavolo, Italy, £9, 12.5% .

Other white wines that go well with curry include Gewürztraminer, Rieslings and Viogniers. Try this gorgeous Gewürztraminer by Paul Cluver (one of my favourite wines on the site) 2013, £12, 12.5%; or slightly more expensive at £17 this 2012 Gewuztraminer, Rolly Gassman, Alsace, France, a little more alcoholic at 13%.

With a mild curry, say a korma, you could try Master of Wine Nick Adams’s pick, 2012 Mara Martin Godello, Spain, £10, 13%

For a prawn or chicken curry, you might try a fruity honeyed but full-bodied Viognier such as 2012 Viognier, Tabali from Chile, £12 13.5%

For a really spicy curry, I recommend the 2010 Sybille Kuntz Easte Riesling, Germany £15, 11.5%. It’s light enough to be thirst quenching but also dry enough to cut through the ghee and coconut milk of a Southern Indian curry.

And yes, red and rosé wine is not out of the question either. For a meat curry, aubergine curry or say a bombay aloo, the 2012 Adobe Carmenere £8, 14% has a natural spice which would be very complementary.

Equally, the 2011 Seghesio Zinfandel, £18, 15% from California is sturdy enough to match tomatoey hot curries.

Have a go at this Goan fish curry recipe, adapted from Camellia Panjabi’s 50 Great Curries.

Curry 1


I served it with cucumber raitha and Bombay aloo.

Serves 4 – 6


800g of cod or haddock, skinned and boned.

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 to 8 red chillis, deseeded

1 large onion, peeled and chopped roughly

Flesh of one small fresh coconut (you can peel off the brown flesh or not bother)

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp turmeric

3 cms of fresh peeled ginger

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of tamarind extract

1 tbsp of Maldon sea salt

2 tbsps of ghee or clarified butter

Half a 200g sachet of creamed coconut

500ml boiling water

2 fresh tomatoes, grated

Fresh coriander

2 green chillis, thinly sliced


First of all ‘cook’ the fish, ceviche style, by squeezing over the lime, turmeric powder and salt. Leave for 15 to 20 minutes then drain off the liquid.

In a high-speed blender, food processor or Vitamix, process the chillis, onion, fresh coconut, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, tamarind. Process until smooth.

Put a large cast iron or good quality large frying pan on a medium heat and add the ghee.

In the meantime boil a kettle and pour it around the unopened packet of coconut to melt it. Once it is melted, then cut open the top.

Pour the contents of the food processor into the frying pan then add half the coconut to it. Cook this down for a few minutes then stir in the boiling water. Grate in the tomato. Turn down the heat and simmer the sauce for ten minutes.

Then carefully add the fish to the pan, trying not to break it up and spoon the sauce on top of the fish too. Cook on low for seven minutes then serve, garnished with fresh coriander and a few slices of green chilli.

So what do you drink with curry? White, red or beer? Let us know below in the comments.






14 Responses to What wines should you match with curry? By Kerstin Rodgers (aka MsMarmiteLover)

  1. Wino November 2, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Lovely recipe, I really want a curry now!

  2. Sarah.e.moore November 3, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    I must make that curry, do you think the leftovers would freeze ok or should I just invite some friends over?

    I’d probably drink a dry Riesling. Dad always had Shiraz with a meat curry.

  3. Kerstin November 3, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Hi Sarah,
    Yes you could definitely freeze the sauce and the fish if it was very fresh and not over cooked.
    A dry Riesling is a good choice for me too.
    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Sonia Cabano November 3, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Hi Kerstin – gosh this recipe looks fantastic, I am definitely going to make it. I’d go for a riesling with fish curry, even an Indian one. We visited Hartenberg wine estate outside Stellenbosch for a picnic lunch yesterday and they have gorgeous rieslings. Greetings all the way from Cape Town! xxSonia

  5. Kerstin November 4, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Hey Sonia,
    Let me know how it goes!
    Gosh I do love South African wine. I visited Paul Cluver himself in Stellenbosch earlier this year. Amazing man. Incredibly clever, could listen to him all day.

  6. Sally - My Custard Pie November 5, 2014 at 4:00 am #

    Love the idea of ‘cooking’ the fish in lime juice first. A full-bodied Semillion (or blend) would be a good match with creamier curries.

  7. kerstin November 6, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Hi Sally,
    I got that idea from Camila Panjabi’s book 50 best curries. I could see the point, it means that you can be certain that the fish will have no raw bits prior to smothering it in a thick sauce. When I tried another version with raw fish, it was trickier, I had to keep checking the temperature inside the fish with a digital thermometer, to make sure it reached 65ºc (i.e. the benchmark of cooked for fish flesh) which was kind of a pain.
    Much better to ‘cook’ it with lime first.

  8. john rodgers November 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Medium sweet white wines served very cold: traminer, orvieto. Powerful reds able to stand up to the food flavour, shiraz, carmeniere, cabernet sauvignon.

  9. john rodgers November 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    medium sweet cold white wine, traminer for example, or powerful reds.

  10. Pamela November 7, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    This sounds so yummy. I will make this for my husband. I’ll have to use dried coconut as I can’t get fresh ones here in Japan.

    I have a question: does the 1T of Maldon sea salt go in with the blender items?

    • msmarmite November 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Pamela,
      Ha! Thanks for pointing that out, yes the salt goes in with the blender items. Caan you get creamed coconut in Japan? I’m amazed to hear you can’t get fresh ones as Japan is in Asia. Maybe if you hydrate the dried coconut in water for a few minutes before using it?


  11. msmarmite November 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Cold whites and heavy reds….yes I agree with that. Wine ‘experts’ would disagree on the heavy reds but then, see my next post, they also disagree on heavy reds with cheese which I love. I know what I like!
    Thank you for commenting.

  12. Dominic November 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks for interesting post and recipe. I think most people worry too much and many whites work with curry. I’d also recommend from this site for hearty curries – Chakalaka, Spice Route – South African red, very fruity with peppery notes, lovely and stands up well to spicy rich dishes

    • Kerstin Rodgers December 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

      Hi dominic,
      My pleasure. Oh yes the Chakalaka wine is gorgeous, fantastic with a tomato based curry.

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