October is one of my favourite months – lighting the fire, warm jumpers and cosy nights in. It has all the perks of autumn without the bleakness of winter and that sense of comfort is reflected in the kitchen with Neven’s curries.
When it comes to curry, you may be planning to clink bottles of beer rather than wine glasses, but we’re going to challenge your taste buds.
Of course, the cooling effect of beer is a great thirst quencher with spicy food.
However, a slightly sweet wine can elevate your meal to another level. Let me explain why. With food and wine, you’re looking for the perfect balance – acidity in wine cuts through fatty food as tannins help to soften meat and in this situation, sweet balances heat. Essentially, when you pair a slightly sweet wine with spicy food, it makes the wine taste less sweet and it quells the heat of the curry. For this reason, I’ve selected two delicately sweet wines. For white wine lovers, it’s all about aromatic German Riesling and for red wine fans a fruity Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
If Riesling isn’t usually on your radar, it’s a beautiful wine to try. On wine lists, you’ll usually find it on the higher end in terms of price but some retailers have introduced them at a much more affordable price point. And although New Zealand is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, for the last few decades it has been quietly making some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. One of the most southerly wine making regions, the warm days and cold nights lead to an ideal balance of ripe flavours and a fresh vibrancy that results in youthful wine with fresh fruit and silky soft tannins.
Aldi – €6.99
When you survey the wine shelves of your local supermarket or wine shop, Riesling isn’t as widely available as other white wines. It can be a challenge to find much choice under the €10 mark, making this Riesling a refreshing sight. Grown in the Rheinhessen region of the Rhine valley which is Germany’s largest wine producing region, lots of fruit shines though especially apple with a nice zippy citrus twist. The finish isn’t especially long but it’s refreshing and vibrant and a great starting point on your Riesling journey.
M&S – €22
We’re stepping up in terms of budget but this Stepp Riesling is a sublime wine. It’s slightly drier and more delicate so don’t go too spicy with your pairings, it would be better suited to the korma than the Rogan Josh. It’s quite an autumnal wine with flavours of apples, yellow peaches and a pop of citrus with flavours of lime shining through. The sweetness is evident through delicate honey flavours and it has lovely minerality with good length and texture.
Lidl – €8.99
This wine is light and easy to drink, a real crowd pleaser if you’re having a gang over for a curry night. Hawke’s Bay is on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island and the area enjoys sunny days and dry conditions which allows the fruit flavours to develop. As a result, red berries shine through especially strawberries accompanied with plum flavours and a touch of sour cherries. You don’t pick up too much tannins and it’s not a very complex wine but good value.
O’Briens Wines – €24.95 (€21.95 in Oct)
A group of pals came together to form this winery in the Marlborugh region of New Zealand including a guy called Simon Waghorn, now one of the most celebrated wine makers in the country. The fruit is picked at its prime with minimum wine-making intervention to allow the best expression of the fruit. As a result, it’s a stunning wine with layers of wild strawberries and raspberries with ripe cherry. Eleven months in French oak brings a layer of complexity and a smoky finish.