The news that a Chilean wine is being promoted as being a natural pairing with curry dishes and that premium retailer Waitrose is listing two wines from India, can be seen as a back-handed compliment to the decision by Sussex grower Carr Taylor vineyards to produce wines dedicated to consumption with curry and other spicy Asian foods.
The Hastings-based vineyard has marketed wines that match curry and all hot and spicy foods through its Taylor & Shroff subsidiary, selling its wine to India since before 2007.
A challenge to marry wine and curry has come from the levels of acidity and tannins in most wines clash with the many spices used in Asian cuisine, whilst the heat of the chillies overpowers any subtleties of standard table wines.
David Carr Taylor says: “My Indian company, Taylor & Shroff, has been selling a range of wines which we have been exporting to India by pallet and by the container from our production base here in Hastings.
“Much research went into our range of wines that are really enjoyable with hot, spicy curry and Asian foods. We have been selling our wines in India for over four years with increasing volumes and we are in discussions with some three major pan-India distributors whereby volumes are predicted to be absolutely huge.
“India is however an alien wine market and not for the faint hearted. Taylor & Shroff has now cracked this vast market.”
The issues surrounding wine that complements hot spicy food come down to the differing tastes between Asian and European palates.
The Asian palate generally dislikes tannins and acids in wine, considers Carr Taylor, which translates into a general dislike for dry, austere wines.
Carr Taylor says: “Asians do like sweeter wines and like higher alcohols to dissolve the herbs and spices in the food to enhance the flavours many times over. Asians do like to make cocktails from our wines.
“I believe the UK is not ready for wines like ours as it is too steeped in its traditions and is a hard sell.”
Wine imports to India are less than one million cases. In five years’ time, it is predicted to overtake China, currently the largest importer of wines in the world.
Taylor & Shroff wines have five flavours in the range: white red, apricot, cherry and ginger fortified to 17%. The higher alcohol and residual sugar levels not only complement Asian and spicy cuisines, enhance the overall dining experience and cooling down the heat.
It is recommended that the wines are at their best poured over ice in small measures, like a port wine, and enjoyed with any spicy food dish.