Why not indeed?
So the Wines of Chile UK team put it to the test and launched a new “Carmenere Made for Curry” campaign with a food and wine matching event at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants, Benares, on Berkeley Square.
Jitin Joshi (Executive Chef at Benares) and Costanzo Scala (Head Sommelier & Wine Buyer at Benares) created a delicious menu of classic Indian dishes and sauces to help us test the theory with 39 Carmeneres from across Chile.
Guests included wine writers, sommeliers, retail buyers and on-trade distributors. They were encouraged to taste through the Carmeneres in their own time and to experiment as much as possible with the food to see how different dishes brought out different characters such as cardamom in some wines and how the smoky oak of the tandoor could be a good balance for the toasty oak in others.
A questionnaire was handed out to all those attending and the responses were extremely positive: most respondents wouldn’t be reduced to just one wine when asked for their favourite Carmenere in the line up and the answer to the golden question “Do you think Carmenere is a good match for curry?” was a resounding “YES”.
There are many types of curries, of course, and many styles of Carmenere as well, but common themes included the prominence of vibrant, spicy, sometimes floral notes that highlight the aromatic spices of this cuisine. Use of oak was also noted as the main characteristic in the wine that would influence the degree of success with curry.
Some of the comments received were:
“In general terms yes. I can’t think of any other grape variety that would come close to this level of acceptability”
Leafy, juicy, spicy styles work best – accenting herbs and spices in food, offering contrast”
“Seems to have an affinity with cardamom and cumin”
“The spice – light bodied & elegant florals compliment the curries”
“…. wines that are not over-oaked and have integrated oak (work best)”
Next time you are cooking up a curry or sitting in an Indian restaurant, go for a Carmenere and give the combination a go.
Look for lightly oaked or unoaked wines that will allow the delicate spices in the food to develop. If you can’t live without your oak fix however, choose a tandoori dish from the menu.
Wines of Chile would like to thank Benares Restaurant, and in particular Costanzo Scala, for all their help in setting up this event. The menu they created for us was:
Murgh Malai Tikka
Lamb Sheek Kebab
Kashmiri Lamb Roganjosh
Tandoori Chicken Breast
Chicken Tikka Masala
Watch for more Carmenere Made for Curry activities throughout the year!
See also Chris Losh’s blog post on the event at Imbibe: “Hot Stuff“