As we now stock a small (yet growing, hopefully) range of beer, I thought it would be safe to write a short blog-post about what to drink with curry (a question that gets asked more often than you might think). And the answer of course is not beer. It’s Riesling.
The British, quite understandably if you’ve ever tasted bad Riesling, have a deep seated mistrust when it comes to Germany’s finest. Memories of overly sweet mass-produced and marketed wines tend to colour perceptions. Allied to this are the utterly baffling wine labels that most German Riesling’s sport which often makes it impossible to determine producer, vineyard, style etc etc. New World Rieslings are somewhat clearer about what exactly it is they are offering but people still tend to be wary.
The first thing to remember when choosing a Riesling to go with curry, or any spicy food – Thai is another great pairing – is to make sure you choose a dry Riesling. To help you with this when there isn’t someone around to advise you (not a problem you will encounter at Blue Otter!) the IRF have created what they call a ‘Riesling Taste Profile’, a scale that some producers now put on the back label of their bottles and which runs from dry to sweet and all stops in-between. Trocken or Kabinett are what you are looking for here.
Although dry Reislings in no way compare with a sauvignon blanc for example for acidity (and it is important to keep this in mind if it’s your first taste, so be prepared!), they tend to be crisp, well balanced, and clean with tropical flavours and hints of lychee, peach and citrus. It is this fruit character that allows it to balance so well the spice and heat of curry. Another factor in favour of choosing Riesling over beer for curry is that it is lighter and less filling (dare I say ‘bloating’).
Of course, Riesling goes beautifully with all types of food and is more adaptable than you might think. This can also be said of the fantastic variety of craft beers now available. I will write about the match of Berkshire-brewed-Belgian style beer with pulled-pork another time…