Viognier: A wine that loves ethnic cuisine

So this Peruvian chica orders an Indian curry dish with a bottle of French wine.

It could happen. And if you live in Casa de Señorita Vino, it happened Wednesday night. Only I didn’t order the dish; I  had to cook it myself. And the dish was made with quinoa, that Peruvian super-grain. I added some stir-fried wild Argentinean red shrimp et voila, global cuisine in the comfort of my own cocina.

Lemon curry quinoa with Argentinean red shrimp. And it only took 15 minutes to prepare, thankyouverymuch!

But now comes the million-peso question: Which wine goes with this multi-ethnic mash-up? Before I answer, and at the risk of offending a few wine snobs (although they wouldn’t be reading this blog anyway), it’s all about you, chicas y chicos, and what titillates your tiny tastebuds. There are no concrete laws when it comes to wine and food pairings, only suggestions.

So here’s what I had with my Wednesday evening global fusion dish: Viognier. This is a refreshing white wine made from the Viognier grape, which originates in….France! However, I had a California Viognier, which took nothing away from my at-home International Dining Extravaganza.

Cambria Wines’ Viognier is made from grapes grown in the Santa Maria Valley. And no, it’s not your eyes, it’s the photo. Sorry kids, Señorita Vino was in a hurry when she snapped these.

The beauty of Viognier is its versatility. Here’s a simple explanation of why Viognier is a good match for this dish:

1. Viognier has a smooth texture (it’s not high in acidity) with ripe fruit aromas. It’s the fruitiness of the wine that makes the subtle sweetness of the shrimp (or any shellfish) stand out.

2. The wine is full-bodied, meaning it has a high alcohol content. So a strong spice like curry won’t overpower the wine. In other words, there’s a balance. El Cautionary Suggestion: Because the wine is high in alcohol, you may not want to pair it with a pepper-hot curry or any dish that is spicy-hot, unless you like your dinner with a five-alarm-fire chaser.

3. Remember that wine ‘tasting’ is more about wine ‘smelling.’ We don’t really ‘taste’ the spicy, fruity or floral notes in a wine. It’s our olfactory system (la nariz!)that picks them up. Having said that, a food spice can make the spicy notes in a wine stand out. Curry’s natural aromas enhance the hints of spice in Viognier.

Late-harvest Viognier is sweet. Viognier is not.

You may not find Viognier at your neighborhood grocery store, so look for it at a wine shop. There’s a big difference between Viognier and late-harvest Viognier. Viognier is a dry wine, meaning it does not taste sweet. Late-harvest Viognier is considered a dessert wine and is honey-sweet. How to tell the difference when you’re buying wine? The late-harvest Viognier (and most dessert wines) will be in a smaller, skinny bottle, while the Viognier will be in a standard 750 ml wine bottle. Stay tuned for a future post on dessert wines.

In the meantime, careful readers may have noticed that it took me only 15 minutes to prepare my multicultural din-din. How is this possible, you ask? Easy. I cheated. Your reward for reading this far is the key to my weeknight culinary prowess: Just-add-water meals.

In this case, I used Roland Lemon Curry Quinoa (El Full Disclosure: Roland provided a free sample. Muchas gracias, Roland!).

Argentinean red shrimp not-on-the-barbie.

While the quinoa was cooking, I tossed some Argentinean red shrimp in a pan for a couple of minutes and added them to the finished product.

Here’s where I get to offer you yet another bit of cautionary advice. Argentinean red shrimp look pink when they’re raw, which means you need to cook them. Señor Jim, if you’ve read this far, your reward is that neither of us died when I served them raw in the spaghetti last week. Sorry about that.

15 thoughts on “Viognier: A wine that loves ethnic cuisine

  1. Once again a great blog Post: made me smile and taught me something too. Thanks for differentiating the different Viogniers that was very helpful.

    1. Mil gracias, Ernest! Enjoy your weekend. ¡Salud!

  2. Que hambre me ha dado! Quiero eso exactamente de cena!

  3. I want some! Looks so delcious.

  4. I am so happy I found this blog about wine. I usually go for regular pinot grigio…but now I can learn more about combining with different foods and maybe get motivated to do more cooking!

    1. Thanks for finding us, Blanca! I’m glad you were inspired. ¡Salud!

  5. Quinoa became my favorite grain this year, and shrimp… well… shrimp with anything is awesome. Your choice of wine to match your powerful dish is wonderful. So this fruity, low acid and high alcohol wine is now on my radar. Thanks!!

  6. Glad to hear Sr. Jim is alive and well after his brush with raw Argentine Red Shrimp. Por favor…ten cuidado!

    1. Gracias, Mary-Kay. I really should spend less time in the wine closet and more time exercising caution in the kitchen.

  7. Mirala cooking with quinoa! Que bueno! And I love how you mixed the cultures and ethnicity in food and wine. What a troubadour!

  8. What a funny, chatty post with some great info! I don’t drink Viognier so I appreciated how you “broke it down” for a novice. As a result, I may try it!

    1. That’s great! If you do try it, please let me know what you think. Happy sipping 🙂

  9. I was searching around for recipe ideas for the Argentine Red Shrimp I import and was very happy to find your blog. Not only did I find a great recipe but learned something about wine that goes well with shrimp. I put a link back to this page at Check out some of the other recipe ideas there.

    1. Thanks for reading, Todd! And thanks for sharing the recipe on your FB page. Salud/Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close