BYO(PA)B: Bring Pennsylvania Wines Along to Your Favorite Indian Restaurant

BYOBs are a staple of Pennsylvania’s dining scene. These establishments offer a great chance to drink and experiment with wine at an affordable price. We’ve provided pairings for Italian and Thai feasts, and next up is Indian. Here are some delicious dishes to look for, paired with PA wines.

Chaat and Samosas paired with Dry Sparkling Vidal Blanc

Start your meal with a spread of traditional Indian appetizers. Our personal favorites include samosas, the crispy fried packets of spiced potatoes and peas, and chaat. The latter is a salad-like mix of crispy potatoes or dough, vegetables, fresh herbs, and spices, topped with various sweet, sour, and spicy chutneys. Both of these dishes are based on texture and flavor contrasts, so what you need is a wine that can keep up. Select a bottle of dry bubbly made with Vidal Blanc. This will rev up your palette and provide a crisp contrast to the fried flavors.

Gobi 65 paired with Traminette

This is a vegetarian spin on the Chicken 65, an example of the fusion cuisine developed by Chinese expatriates in India. Like many American immigrant fusion dishes — spaghetti with meatballs, chili, chop suey — Gobi 65 has become incredibly popular. It’s not hard to see why: cauliflower is tossed in a vibrantly colored, seasoned batter and then deep-fried. Served with wedges of lemon, the result is spicy, salty, and crispy, aka the perfect drinking snack. This is a prime opportunity to pour a wine with a bit of residual sugar to counteract the heat. Traminette, the aromatic white hybrid grape, is a smart choice. With its notes of lychee and honey, it can hold up to bombastic flavors.

Spicy Lamb Vindaloo paired with Cabernet Franc

A curry native to southern India, Vindaloo is actually a riff on a Portuguese dish of marinated meat with garlic and wine vinegar (carne de vinha d’alhos). The colonial favorite was adapted by local chefs into a punchy, spicy sauce featuring tamarind, warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom, dried chilis and palm vinegar. While you can have this dish with any protein, the lamb will accentuate the earthiness of the spices and the chilis. Such a robust dish cries out for a powerful, tannic red such as Cabernet Franc. The berry notes of the wine will provide contrast while the peppery flavors will serve as a complement.

Saag Paneer paired with Sauvignon Blanc

This vegetarian classic is a simple stew of spinach (lots of spinach!) and fresh cubes of Indian cheese. Choose a wine with acidity to balance out the creaminess of the sauce. Sauvignon Blanc not only has brightness, it also has grassy and herbaceous notes that will make the subtle flavor of the greens pop.

Tandoori Chicken paired with Lemberger

Many cultures have a beloved grilled chicken dish, and this iteration is marinated in yogurt and spices before being cooked in a traditional tandoori oven (which is also where the accompanying naan bread is baked). The resulting bird should be moist and tender, with a touch of char. Pair the platter with a Lemberger, a grape known for its gorgeous dark color. In this situation, reach for a lighter style — think Pinot Noir-esque — with aromas of cherries, blackberries, and spice. The wine’s medium tannins and high acidity will bring out the tang in the chicken’s marinade.

Goan Fish Curry paired with Albariño

The signature flavors of this dish are creamy coconut milk and a sour pop (typically tamarind or vinegar). Known for its intense flavors, Goa is a region of Southern India with a majority Hindu population, making fish dishes a staple (many Hindus avoid meat). When pairing a wine with this dish, you should choose something that won’t overwhelm the fish, but also something with enough acidity to balance the richness of the curry. Albariño, a grape variety native to Northern Spain that thrives in PA’s cool, wet climate, is a classic pairing with seafood for exactly that reason. It’s crisp, clean and incredibly food-friendly.

Gulab Jamun paired with late-harvest Riesling

In this iconic dessert, balls of dough are fried and then soaked in a light honey syrup, creating a textural delight. To balance the sweetness, flavors of cardamom and rose are often added. Play up those aromatic and honey notes with a late-harvest dessert wine. Riesling is an elegant option because it showcases sweetness balanced by high acidity. The wine’s bright complexity will refresh your tastebuds and keep you coming back to the dessert.

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