Pittsburgh’s Palate Partners Suggests Wine Pairings for Indian Cuisine

By Premlata Venkataraman

The flowery overblown descriptions of wines amuse me; I guess I just am not the type to go overboard over a glass of wine. While living in the Bay Area decades ago it was chic to go to wine-and-cheese tastings. Also at their peak of popularity were fondue parties — but that is another story for another day.

Recently Palate Partners, a specialty wine retailer at the Strip run by Deb Mortillaro and Mike Gonze, held an open house to demystify all the verbiage — body, bouquet, aroma, vintage— in the wine vocabulary. Their simple message: learn to enjoy wines by experimenting with different types. They do this through their affordable ($12/person) wine appreciation classes with six wines to explore.

The teaser in their e-mail was: Do you know which wine to serve with special foods? This has been a sore point with me, as I am sure it is with most readers. How do you pick wines to go with spicy Indian dishes? Even though wine is not routinely served during Indian dinners, we would still like to know which wines go with our spicy dishes for those rare events. Seeking some enlightenment on this, I went.

To my pleasant surprise, Mike and Deb, our wine gurus, were practical, friendly and helpful. Emphasizing that there is nothing objective in matching food with wines, they offered a few broad general ideas:

  • Opposites attract. Spicy food needs fruity wines.
  • Textures should match. Light foods with light wines and heavy foods with heavier wines.
  • Popular wines don’t always match with spicy food.
  • Try a new wine even if it isn’t the most popular du jour. It’s fun to try new wines and see what you like.

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