quest to find a wine match for curries
Warren Edwardes (pictured
below) is the man behind a rather unusual set of wines. Titled ‘Wine
for Spice’, his range of two whites and a rosé is designed with
spicy Asian food in mind. I caught up with him for a meal at upmarket
curry house Masala Zone (www.masalazone.com).
Warren has an interesting background. He’s from Dehli, but has Goan
roots. He went to a Jesuit boarding school in Rajistan, where he had
his first experience of wine at the 5.30 am mass that started each
day. And his current venture follows a career in investment banking.
Since I last saw his wines,
they’ve changed their look a bit. The new labels are ‘a lot more
feminine’, Warren claims. ‘We’re also aiming at the summer
market: the key word is “refreshing”; anything that works in
summer should also work with curry’. That means acidity, no oak and
not tannin. Low temperature, sparkling, and not too high alcohol. This
is Warren’s equation for a successful match with spice.
most distinctive feature of the Wine for Spice range is that these
wines are fizzy, but not as fizzy as Champagne. Champagne typically
has a pressure of 6 bars, whereas these wines come in at 2.4 bars.
This semi-sparlking style is produced by the charmant method. His
wines all have some residual sugar, too, rising with the spiciness of
the dish. Thermometer images are used on the label to indicate this.
Warren used to drink
Torres’ Vina Esmerelda at home, a blend of Muscat and Gewürztraminer
with 11 g/l residual sugar. (Viceroy Gold is 19 g/l residual sugar.)
‘I find Gewürztraminer/Muscat a bit cloying after the first glass:
it’s a bit too much’, says Warren. He experimented and mixed the
Esmerelda half and half with Muscadet, which was much more refreshing,
and then mixed it with Cava, which led to the semi-sparkling idea.
‘You lose a lot of the nuances with spice’, says Warren, ‘and
you’re left with the textural and acid characteristics.’
Clearly, these are wines
with a function in mind. ‘They are not terroir wines’, admits
Warren. ‘They are good gluggers: these wines can be produced
anywhere because the key is vinification, not viticulture’. In fact,
the wines all come from northeast Spain.
Wines for Spice Viceroy
Made from the same grape varieties used to make Cava. Very dry
with good acid and a bit of a sparkle. Fresh, pure and fruity. Works
very well with mild curries – in this case a chicken samosa was a
good pairing. A bit neutral on its own. 2 g/litre residual sugar.
Wines for Spice Raja Rosé
70% Garnacha and 30% Tempranillo. Sweet strawberry fruit dominates
here, with a nice acid tang and some spritz. It’s off dry but
refreshing. Works well with spicier food, cutting through nicely. 7 g/litre
Wines for Spice Rani Gold
A mix of 50% Muscat and 50% Cava grape varieties, this is the most
distinctive of the three wines: more refreshing than a pure Muscat
because of the acid and fizz. Nice aromatic grapey nose but it avoids
being at all sickly sweet. Off-dry but still refreshing. Nice rich
texture. 19 g/litre residual sugar.
These wines are available
from some branches of Waitrose, as well as directly from the Wine for
tasted: August 2007
[Earlier report from a few years back]
Warren Edwardes is a brave man: he’s built a business
that aims to find the right wine to match with curry. It’s called Wine
for spice. I’ve always been one of those rather sceptical types
who were of the belief that the best match for curry is a cold beer,
but I’m an open minded sort of guy so I agreed to give Warren’s
wines a go. I matched them with several typical curry dishes.
The wines themselves are sourced from Cavas del Ampurdas,
Perelada, in Spain’s Costa Brava. They are all made in a rarely seen
semi-sparkling style, and there’s a dry white, a semi-sweet white
and a semi-sweet rosé. Below are my notes on the wines and how they
faired with the curries. Surprisingly, the fizziness and sweetness in
tandem work very well in the two sweeter wines.
Viceroy White Dry NV
Very crisp and fizzy with tart appley lemony fruit. Quite neutral
and needs food because of the acidity. Very good 83/100
Overwhelmed by the curry: you just get the acidity and tartness. It
cuts through the flavour well, but there’s nothing left of it once
it has emerged.
Raja Rosé Medium Dry NV
Sweet strawberry fruit on the nose. The palate is fizzy with sweet
fruit, but the high acidity leaves it feeling rather dry despite the
residual sugar. Very good 82/100
A surprisingly good match: the weight of flavour and residual sugar
cut through well.
Rani Gold Medium Dry NV
Grapey, aromatic sweet nose. The palate is fizzy, sweet and grapey
with good acidity. The sweetness and acidity counter each other well.
Very good 83/100
The residual sugar really works well here. A good match, with the
fizziness and acid countering the sweetness, and buffering the curry
flavours to good effect.
So, the crunch question: if I was dining in a curry house
and saw Warren’s wines on the list, would I opt for them or stick
with my beer? In all honesty, I’d go for the beer. Habits are hard
to break. But if I was with someone who wanted wine, I’d probably
give the Rani Gold a go in preference to a more conventional
wine for spice ltd
3 hyde park steps
st. george's fields
london W2 2YQ, UK
t: +44 (0) 20 7724 4606
m: +44 (0) 794 191 6328
f: +44 (0) 870 132 0055
Back to top