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SOS -- wine with lamb curry?

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  • GretchenS May 3, 2004 01:20 PM
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Making a lamb and spinach curry for tonight (out of Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi). The recipe looks spicy but not overly hot. Am completely baffled as to a wine to serve with it and my well-stocked neighborhood wine shop has let me down -- no wine people work on Mondays and the kid on the register didn't know what curry is!! Thanks in advance for your advice.

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  1. how about a medium bodied syrah or a nice gigondas? both tend to pair very well with gamey meats like lamb.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rebs
      c
      Chicago Mike

      As one poster mentioned, the curry is the challenge.

      I'd rec 3 drinks: a luscious fruity Gewurztraminer (as opposed to an austere, flinty version), a syrah, and a Hefe-Weisse german beer. Serve them all and see which is your favorite with this dish.

      IF you can find a good one, I'd also have a Lassi available. If not, try a plain Kefir.

      1. re: Chicago Mike
        m
        Melanie Wong

        If you must try syrah (I don't recommend it), it should be a fruit bomb style ala Oz Shiraz. No need to waste a beautiful Northern Rhone syrah (Cornas, Cote Rotie, Hermitage, etc.) on this trial. We had a group of 24 try it and they all bombed as pairings with lamb curry. Great wines though.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          c
          Chicago Mike

          In tasting with syrah, scrape off the excess curry sauce to the extent possible. Also the larger the chunks of lamb, the better.

          1. re: Chicago Mike
            m
            Melanie Wong

            Better yet, skip the lamb curry and serve roast leg of lamb! (vbg)

    2. I agree with rebs that a syrah/Rhone is great with lamb, but I think the problem is the curry part. Those big wines and big spices often don't get along very well. The most commonly recommended match with oriental and spicy foods in general is Gewurztraminer, but it's likely to get lost with a curry. I still think a white might work out better, though, so perhaps you could stick with the Rhone idea but go to a Viognier. The other thing I see recommended often with curry is to give up on the wine idea entirely and have beer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FlyFish
        s
        stirs-the-pot

        White Rhones, especially those from Hermitage and St. Joseph will work....

      2. I would go with a nice bottle of bubbles. A nice dry and acidic Champagne would be best, but any dry sparkling wine would work.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tugboat
          m
          Melanie Wong

          The 'hounds in the San Francisco Bay Area have had a number of wine dinners in recent months with Indian curries. The big reds and Rhones, traditional pairings with lamb, have not done well. Off the top of my head, we've tried 99 Verset Cornas, 89 Beaucastel, 01 Ridge Grenache, 00 Alain Voge Cornas, 86 Clape Cornas, and while all excellent wines, not a good pairing. I've loved the bubblies we've sampled with the food - 95 Dom Perignon, NV Roederer Rose', NV Agrapart Blanc de Blanc, NV Champalou Vouvray, Domaine Chandone rose'. The unoaked aromatic whites have also shown beautifully - too many to list drawing from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Albarino, Muscat, Gruner Veltliner, Vouvray (demi-sec was the best match), Rousanne, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.

          If you have your heart set on a red, I've had good success with young Petite Sirah with lamb vindaloo. For some reason, it just works. PS is also good with Thai-style grilled meats.

        2. s
          stirs-the-pot

          Spinach will make any big, tannic red (Rhone, Califronia Zin, etc.) taste thin and metallic (it's the oxalic acid in the spinach that does this) so my first choice would be a fat and sassy "Grand Cru" Alsace Pinot Gris. If you must have red, I'd suggest one with at least 10-15 years of age on it, that's not too big & ponderous and one with little or no new oak.

          I have been enjoying a lot of my 1989, 1990 and 1993 Barolos with Indian curries. The "skin" tannins have mellowed and there is little evident new oak to clash with the "hard-shelled" spices found in these dishes.

          Sante'

          STP

          2 Replies
          1. re: stirs-the-pot
            m
            Melanie Wong

            The 1996 A. Boxler Grand Cru "Brand" Tokay Pinot Gris was the allround favorite as best pairing at a recent Bengali chowdown. Huge body and just faintly sweet in the finish.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              s
              stirs-the-pot

              Once again, kudos to your wine sense. You have an innate sense of how flavor works, rather than those who bow to conventional wisdom, i.e; I read that "this" goes with "that so it must be the gospell.

              I absolutely love Boxler's wines, but was thinking of something a bit fleshier like A. Mann or ZH for lamb curry.

              When you get the chance, try some "old" wines with sub-continental cuisine, especially those from so-called "off years" from great producers.

              We recently tried a 1981 Haut Brion with Nihari with excellent results (though a 1993 Manzoni "Vigna Roul" Barolo was the star with this dish).

              STP