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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.