The Easter Challenge: Matching Curry with Wine

Lamb is the traditional choice for your Easter Sunday lunch, and with good reason too. Sumptuous, juicy and seasonal, it’s a delicious meat to choose and so spoil your loved ones and family on this special Sunday with a lamb showstopper.
Choosing to roast your lamb? We have questioned some experts and our very own CellarVie Wines team for the wine they’d choose for the ceremonial Sunday roast, so take a look at this blog.
For the more adventurous, I’m urging you to stray from the traditional and try something different. I slow-cooked a curried lamb shank over the weekend, and it was fantastic. Taking inspiration from a BBC Good Food recipe, I took on the dangerous challenge of matching a full flavoured, curry-spiced lamb dish to wine. Cooked at a low temperature in the oven for over four hours, this mouth-watering meat falls from the bone and is an explosion of the senses.
 Curried Lamb Shanks
Curry and Wine: can you do it?
Curry, although it’s a favourite of mine, is not known for its amenability when it comes to its wine matches: the intense flavours in a curry can sometimes mask the complexity and breadth of flavour in a wine. However, with a few pointers and suggestions from a few experts (and I), I see no reason why we can’t all enjoy Easter Sunday with a lamb curry and a delicious wine.
“Despite the fact that many Indian restaurants now have decent wine lists, there's still a deep-rooted aversion to the idea that curry goes with wine. Could it just be that we're looking at the wrong type of wines?”
Fiona Beckett, The Guardian
A general rule to abide by for those just beginning to grasp the often complex nature of wine and food pairing (I include myself in this bracket) is to consider the chilli heat of your curry. Chilli increases the alcohol burn of a wine, and therefore to avoid a high alcohol wine is normally a good idea as this ‘burn’ can be highlighted for sensitive tasters. This chilli heat can also reduce the sweetness and fruitiness of a wine and so veer towards those fruit-driven wines to combat this effect.


The Wine Matches

The Indigenous Italian
Costanza di Mineo Cor Leon Nero d’Avola 2013
Italy | Sicily
Italy’s iconic grape variety, Nero d’Avola is indigenous to Sicily and this evocatively succulent and ethereal red wine exudes intense aromas of blackcurrant and black pepper. The Costanza di Mineo vines are grown in the rolling hills where Coppola’s iconic film The Godfather was based, 1000 metres above sea level. The palate is deliciously full and well-structured, and its soft tannic acidity on the finish offsets the slight fattiness in the lamb shank. A delicious choice for a curry!
The Regal Red Rhone
Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Red 2010
France | Rhone
Recommended by esteemed wine critic Joanna Simon last week (March 13th 2015) as a Wine of the Month in House and Garden, this is a classic and cosy Southern Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, whose old vines are a minimum of 25 years old. A seductive nose of red berries and coriander compliments a silky palate full of spice and liquorice.
Expertly crafted by Labrador loving Jean Luc-Colombo, who has lived in these parts for the best part of 30-years and is often trumpeted as the winemaking wizard of the Rhône, this is seriously good Côtes du Rhône! The Les Abeilles within the name, or 'The Bees', is a testament to the ten pence per bottles that goes to the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) to assist in the protection of our humble honey bees.
“One trick I love is to chill down a fruity red and enjoy it with more meaty [curry] dishes.”
Olly Smith, The Daily Mail

The Exotic North Islander
Villa Maria Private Bin Gewürtraminer 2012
New Zealand | North Island
This rich, spicy wine from the Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne areas of the North Island used to be much underrated, but not anymore! Full of wonderful, ripe, exotic fruit flavours. The palate shows weight which makes it a great match for curry, and its residual sugar can prove to be very effective for a curry and wine matching as the sugar counterbalances the spice and heat of the curry.
“Don't chill whites for rich, spicy curries too hard – icy wine doesn't suit these dishes. Instead, a short spell of 45 minutes in the fridge should just give a cool, refreshing edge to the wine without muting its flavours and aromas any further when next to the spices.”
Susy Atkins, The Telegraph
 The Aussie Belter
Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2012
Australia | South Eastern Australia

This wine is from the original Shiraz producer – George Wyndham planted the first ever commercial Shiraz vineyard and they’ve not looked back since. Probably the best value Shiraz we offer, it’s a punchy wine for the money which ticks all the boxes a Shiraz lover is looking for: power, spice, ripe fruit and a cracking finish. It will stand up very well against a spice-laden curry!

The slow-cooked lamb shank recipe I used is adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe which is available here. Although it requires marinating overnight and includes almost four and a half hours of cooking time, the actual method behind the recipe is very simple. A guaranteed show-stopper with minimum effort required? It's the ideal Easter Sunday special that will give you more time to spend with your friends and family.
The Lamb Shanks after 12 hours of marinating
I adapted the recipe for four people, and then reduced the spice quantity a bit more (reducing the level of spice also makes it more wine-friendly). I basted my lamb shanks each time I took them out of the oven and included thinly sliced yellow and red peppers when I added the tomatoes to the lamb (step three of the recipe). I served it with cucumber and yoghurt and brown rice.
Top tip: to make the lamb go further you can shred it before serving.
 The finished product mid-lunch!

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Written by: Lucy Prosser

Lucy Prosser 


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