One of my favourite Indian dish is lamb vindaloo. It is a fiery spicy curry. I love the taste but I need to confess that most of the time I can barely handle it. It’s one of the spiciest Indian dish.
I can not pair it with tannic reds because those spices draw out tannins aggressively so I ruled syrah, mourvedre and cabernet sauvignon out. I could have paired it with an off-dry or a sweet white wine like Coteaux du Layon to tone down the heat. However I did not feel like drinking white.
I finally picked 2012 Vacqueyras, Cuvée de Lopy from Le Sang des Cailloux. It is made from 75% grenache and 25% syrah, medium-bodied with mellow tannins. The wine was rich and powerful to handle the heat. Plum, black currant, mulberry, dark cherry and the touch of earthy and toasty flavours soothed the palate and balanced the spice. It was quite enjoyable. Then, in the middle of my second glass, I had heavy fruit jam on the palate. It was getting heavier every time I took more sips. I felt like I was putting a spoon of jam in my mouth, it was overpowering. This happened when my mouth was on fire. The wine did not help me coating my burning tongue. I could not continue with the Vacqueyras.
I opened the fridge and picked up the leftover 2012 Jurançon Vendanges Tardives from La Cave des Producteurs de Jurançon. It delivered the right touch of sweetness with crisp acidity. It helped me alleviate the burn. There was a pleasant interaction, I felt both the dish and the wine.
If you were to pick red, I would recommend fruity, light and low-alcohol wine such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir. The Vacqueyras is too dense. It was strong enough to handle the curry flavours but it did not take the edge off the heat. It lacks a refreshing contrast. The 14% alcohol might have something to do with this “almost successful” pairing. The alcohol tended to negatively emphasise the heat.
Off-dry or sweet white wines work really well. However, overly sweet wines may interfere with other flavours. I eventually finished my dish with the Jurançon.