Let me start with a disclaimer.
I am no wine guru or Huan Hooke with a fine palate and large nose who can not only tell the origin of the grape but also the angle of the slope on which the vineyard was planted and the intensity of the sunlight at 5 pm in the summer months.
I’m just someone who enjoys their wine (and Scotch) and takes an annual pilgrimage around the vineyards in Australia to learn more about wines and savour the cellar door experience. I can distinguish between a Riesling and a Chardonnay (one is much lighter than the other) and can identify the flavours with a knowing look.
Most importantly, I have learned that we all have different palates and so will enjoy different wines depending on our mood and weather, and on this wine-tasting journey, I will happily embark.
So, what are my top five choices of white wine with spicy food?
The trick is to opt for lighter, crisper wines which bring out the flavour of the food. Fruity and aromatic flavours in your whites is the way to go.
Jacob’s Creek Classic Riesling (circa under $9)
Now if you are on a budget and it is important to have a matching wine to the rasam or kadhai chicken dish, this is your go-to wine. It has won a couple of medals so looks impressive. It will not win you any favours from the loved one but is cool, light and with a citrus flavour is an easy and cheap drink. Your friends who do not appreciate good wine, will not find this offensive.
Pewsy Vale Eden Valley Riesling (circa $18-$20)
From Eden Valley near the Barossa region in South Australia, this is a wine low in acidity, crisp with slight flavours of herbs and grapefruit and lime. I can see it paired with a medium spiced goat curry or perhaps a Thai green curry.
Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc (circa $13-15)
If you are really confused about what wine to buy, a safe bet is a sauvignon blanc – most people love a sauv blanc. Seek out the Marlborough region of New Zealand, and you will have your guests nodding in appreciation. The Oyster Bay is a well-balanced, fruity and an enjoyable wine and perfectly priced too. Dan Murphy often has specials on this, and you just cannot go wrong with it. I will pair it with more spicey foods and even with the chilli playing havoc on my palate, will enjoy the coolness of this wonderful import.
Angullong Fossil Hill Vermentino (circa $24-$26)
Vermentino is my COVID-19 discovery; I am just loving the taste. It is an Italian grape and this is how it is described: mouth filling with long lasting taste. Angullong is a vineyard in Orange NSW and this is a beautiful drop which will go well with almost any spicy dish. There’s more than a hint of citrus, and see if you can get the touch of rosemary. It does take you into the $25+ range and can be on the pricey side, but is money well spent.
Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc (circa $24-$26)
Yes, this comes in at about the same +$20 range but hey, if you want quality, you need to pay a bit more. From the Adelaide Hills, this is a top wine and should be held back for special occasions. The grapes are hand-picked rather than machine picked, and the wine is refreshingly light with plenty of flavours. Because of the delicacy of the wine, lightly spiced foods will be the best pairing. A delicious start to an evening.
My handy hints for white wine drinking: Drink slightly chilled rather than as cold as a slushie. Kills the flavours. And do note, once poured, it will get to room temperature and lose some flavours. So, only half fill your glass, sip, and savour. Do NOT let overzealous restaurant staff refill your glass if you have not finished it – there is nothing worse than lukewarm wine in the glass being topped up; you’ll lose the wonderful subtlety of it all.