Top pairings | What wine to pair with curry - my top 5 picks

Top pairings

What wine to pair with curry - my top 5 picks

If you’re wondering which wine to pair with curry, you’re not alone. There are probably more opinions about the matter than there are types of curry from “wine is never a good idea* to *any wine you like*.

3 tips to bear in mind when you're pairing wine and curry

There are three things to think about

* How hot the curry is. Clearly it’s easier to match wine with a mild curry than a searingly hot one.

* How many other dishes you’re serving and how hot they are. It’s easier, in other words, to think about a wine that will go with the whole meal rather than one element of it.

* and what type of curry you’re talking about - Thai and Malay curries, for example are different from Indian curries with their warmer spices. And home-made curries tend to be hotter and pokier than shop-bought ones or ones made from a bought curry sauce.

What you need with curry - and this is why cold lager and lassi work so well - is a refreshing contrast to the heat of the food. A touch of sweetness helps, particularly with hotter curries and green curries as does a fresh, palate-cleansing acidity.

What doesn’t work so well - in my opinion at least - is tannin and high alcohol which can emphasise and unbalance the spice in a curry. So although ripe fruity reds can work - especially with meaty curries like rogan josh - you don’t really want a 15% oaky monster.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many Indian restaurants don’t have brilliant wine lists so it’s a question of what will work best rather than what’s ideal. Here are 5 good all-rounders that I think do the job.

A fruity rosé

This style of wine has consistently come out best in the tastings I’ve done for the What Food, What Wine? competition in the past. Make it a strong fruity style, not a wimpy one though so think Spain, Portugal or South America rather than Provence.

Off-dry riesling

Certainly with chicken, fish and vegetable curries, if not with very meaty ones or ones with a powerful tomato sauce. German, Austrian, Australian and New Zealand rieslings would all do the trick.

Pinot gris

This speciality of Alsace - also found in New Zealand and Oregon - has a particular affinity with Thai green curries but pairs well with mild to medium-hot Indian curries too

Other aromatic whites

Such as fragrant Hungarian whites, dry Muscat, Sylvaner/Silvaner and Torrontes from Argentina


Yes, chardonnay! Particularly fruity styles or blends with grapes such as semillon, chenin and colombard. Good with mild, creamy or buttery curries, especially with chicken. (Viognier is good with this sort of curry too.)

And if I were to pick a red . . .?

I’ll probably go for a juicy, fruity but not too oaky Shiraz or a Chilean Carmenère (similar to a Merlot which would also work well). Pinotage is surprisingly good match with hotter curries and rioja crianza or reserva for rogan josh.

Incidentally you may find Gewurztraminer an odd omission from my top 5 as it’s often paired with curry but it can easily overpower milder curries. Great with a spicy duck curry though

Image © Joe Gough

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Comments: 26 (Add)

Mark on April 1 2023 at 12:54

My old boss David Howell, CEO of, steered me towards Chianti with Indian. That was 20 years ago. Still works a charm!

Jackie on October 14 2022 at 21:31

What white & red wine to go with a massaman curry please ….love your opinion

Mike on September 7 2022 at 13:09

Enjoyed a semi-dry Reisling with a Vadouvan (mild French curry) corn chowder made last night. Link to recipe follows.

Gene on August 12 2022 at 11:08

What's your tip for the rich tomato based curreies?

Fiona Beckett on October 18 2021 at 07:47

That DOES sound good!

Suzanne on October 17 2021 at 23:50

I just paired a mild Indian chicken curry with a Rosato (Nero d'Avola) from Sicily (Filari della Rocca in Contessa Entellina). Wonderful pairing.

Fiona Beckett on April 24 2021 at 07:58

Great to hear! Am so pleased!

Tantlus on April 23 2021 at 23:40

Based on your advice I got a Portugal rose for our yellow curry ramen was an AMAZING pairing! I see why it is consistently coming out as the best! Thank you!!!

Alex Lake on April 3 2021 at 16:03

Having a mild lamb curry tomorrow (Madhur Jaffrey's Lamb Raan) and wondered about Cabernet before considering Cinsault... So will give Musar a shot. Perhaps a relatively exuberant vintage that's still on the young side, so going with 2005. Did also toy with the idea of a Ridge zin, which certainly works very well with smoked pork butt.

lowandslow on March 12 2021 at 14:50

Will be making fish fillets in curry sauce (Madras) from Madhur Jaffery and would like to try a chenin/viogner blend or just chenin blanc from CA. or would the off-dry reisling be better? Or chard as the sauce is made with milk.

JAMES ANGLE on February 26 2021 at 13:58

With chicken Pad Thai, I have always had a German Spatlese. Beautiful combo. Fantastic.

Fiona Beckett on February 25 2021 at 07:34

Depends on the curry and the level of heat, I guess, Jack. These posts are designed to give options, some of which will appeal more than others!

Jack on February 25 2021 at 01:26

Just tried a Torrontes to match with a chicken curry and found it fighting to be the star of the show - a clash more than a complement.

Goronwy on April 3 2020 at 17:19

Fernet branca I’ve been struck by how well its subtle tones goes with Vindaloo..My Friend however was unimpressed and thought baileys cream liquor heavily iced complemented it better

GDoobsy on February 21 2020 at 06:37

With Indian curry, especially Butter Chicken but right through to Vindaloo don't dismiss Australian Sparkling Shiraz, lightly chilled, it cuts right through the spiciest curries. Also well-aged Barossa Shiraz of the big fruity kind can work really well. It's as much about size as anything: big flavours need big wines.

Mike Mitchell on October 13 2019 at 15:14

We had a wine dinner with loads of different dishes recently. the surprise (to us) winner was indeed a Rose - a Sancerre one with a little age. And second were some dry and off dry Rieslings. A bit of sweetness and good acidity seemed to be the keys.
With finely spiced meat dishes really old Riojas worked very well too.

Jonathan on October 12 2019 at 18:13

Sweeter (sh) / fruiter Cape Chenin Blanc

David McDowell on May 23 2019 at 09:47

Going with the ‘aromatic whites’ suggestion, I opened a locally-produced English Huxelrebe (‘Tom Hill’ from Halfpenny Green Vineyards) with a mild home-made curry yesterday and thought it complemented the food very well. My wife, on the other hand, thought it was pants. There’s no accounting for taste !

WSchulz on January 19 2018 at 15:20

Really interesting. I'll save this for the next time I serve curry. I found this article pretty useful as well although it is a bit more general

Bill on July 18 2017 at 18:06

IMO a good full bodied wine of any colour is destroyed by any kind of spicy food - Stick with nice cold beer or lager and even saké and the like.. and please leave the expensive wines for non spiced dinners..

Chloe Monamy on January 12 2017 at 12:31

Spicy Goat Curry (Matt Moran recipe) paired amazing with an aged Gossett Riesling (2012) ... amazing...

Hugh on November 14 2016 at 17:59

How, in your opinion, would a New World style Sauvignon Blanc pair?
These generally have good acidity and a touch of sweetness.

I agree with you on the Pinotage, especially if it is a meaty hot curry.

Charlie on October 13 2016 at 19:47

I've had a Malborough Syrah that had smooth ripe tannins which paired beautifully with a tomato based curry a top Soho Indian.

Jim Oremland on October 16 2015 at 16:23

One that I find works quite well is Vinho Verde. The slight fizz does a terrific job of cleansing the palate between bites.

Ewan Murray on October 14 2014 at 08:50

Manasté, not Manasée! Sorry.

Ewan Murray on October 14 2014 at 08:49

Interesting you mention the omission of gewurztraminer. I organised an Alsace wine dinner at Café Spice Manasée, and before we started discussing the wines and suitable food matches Cyrus said "No gewurztraminer!". He said it didn't have the necessary acidity and freshness to go with his cooking. He did grudgingly (with a smile) allow us to have a VT with dessert!

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