Ahead of next week’s I Love India dining experiences in Melbourne (March 20) and Sydney (March 23) we asked 2016 Winemaker of the Year Peter Fraser, of Yangarra Estate Vineyard in McLaren Vale, about the challenge of pairing wine with Indian cuisine.
Peter suggests the first step to curating a stellar wine list for an Indian menu is to ditch any preconceptions about the spice intensity and weight of dishes from the subcontinent, because flavours vary as greatly from region to region as they do in the wine world. “The assumption that all Indian dishes are as hot as a vindaloo would lead many to reach for a refreshing beer, but aroma plays just as big a part in our perception of food as spice on the palate,” he says, “which is why matching similarly fragrant wines can be really interesting.”
While some get hung up on tannin level, Peter advises considering the flavour profile and body of a wine first and foremost. He explains: “Flavour profile and body of a wine go a long way so I would look to varietals that showcase more savoury elements, such as our roussanne with its flavours of ginger, chicken stock and lime pith, or our grenache with its spice and acidity. Both of these wines are medium in tannin structure and marry freshness with fragrance, which are essential characteristics of Indian cuisine.”
For our inaugural I Love India dinner series, Peter is matching the 2016 Yangarra Roussanne and 2016 Yangarra Preservative-Free Shiraz with herby entrées inspired by streetfood classics. He says he is particularly excited to hear diners’ feedback on the roussanne because its savoury and textural components should make for a delicious match for chicken and vegetable-laden dishes on the varied menu.
The 2015 Yangarra GSM and 2014 Yangarra Old Vine Grenache will take the stage for main course, alongside velvety chicken curry and spiced seafood, among other delicacies.
The partnership with British-Indian television chef Anjum Anand is a natural one for Yangarra Estate, says Peter, because both celebrate regional character, time-honoured methods of production and the science of living well. He continues: “We are making wine from the same place year in year out because we seek to evoke a sense of place in our wines. Biodynamic farming is one of the tools that helps us in this, which includes recognising the role of microflora in the soil to facilitate the uptake of mineral elements to the vine that hopefully come through in the expression of Yangarra wines.”
Peter will be attending both I Love India dinners to introduce his wines and answer questions, despite the cool and mild weather at Yangarra Estate pushing fruit-picking four weeks later than last year. This year’s vintage rounds off a busy year of vineyard manipulation, he says, including canopy management, leaf plucking and bunch exposure.
Last chance to secure I Love India tickets – reserve your place in Melbourne or Sydney now!