Toro Loco Rosé

DARK winter days in January are not the time you expect to drink rosé, but there is one reason you should — if you are serving Indian food.

Toro Loco Rosé

Many people only drink beer with their curry, but wine can bring out more of the subtleties of a good Indian meal which usually has a mix of hot, sour, creamy and sweet flavours.

Dublin’s most famous Indian takeaway chain Bombay Pantry have seven outlets in Dublin, and sell a chilled range of ready-meals through Superquinn and SuperValu shops nationwide.

To celebrate their birthday I was sent a voucher which I decided to use to test a number of wines to see which styles matched their food the best. Along with their creamy Vegetable Navratan and the spicy Chicken Tikka Mirchi, I also cooked a spicy Jhaneko Dhal and a warm Lamb Choila salad flavoured with garlic, green chilli, coriander and mustard oil.

The burn of Indian food means many people will opt for a chilled white wine, but I found that wines with a little more fragrance and sweetness, such as Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris from Alsace, or a rich Viognier, worked better. The light Soave and Sauvignon Blanc based Pouilly Fumé I tried worked fine but added little.

Chilled Rosé has always been a favourite of mine with Indian food and so it proved in this tasting.

The tandoor-charred flavour of lamb or chicken picked out the oak flavours in Rioja quite nicely, but even a light Chilean Merlot worked well.

* For the Diary: The Cork Wine School run by O’Donovans Off Licences are organising wine courses to suit all levels this February and March with one-day, nine-week and 15-week WSET accredited courses. Contact Deirdre on 021-4296060 or deirdre@odonovansofflicence.com

Wine under €10

Toro Loco Rosé, Utiel-Requena, Spain, 2011 — €4.99

Stockist: Aldi

I have recommended the red version of this wine in the past but only recently tasted the rosé. There are boiled sweets and red wine gums on the nose and palate and while I think I would find this too sweet on its own, served well chilled with spicy Indian food, it worked a treat.

Tons de Duorum Portugal, Douro, Portugal, 2001 — €9.99 (reduced from €12.99)

Stockist: O’Brien’s

No grape varieties are given but I thought I detected Touriga Nacional, one of the classic grapes of Port, which is also from the Douro. Plums and blackberries on the nose with a soft fruity palate that worked particularly well with the mild creamy Vegetable Navratan Korma and with the Dhal.

Alto Los Romeros Merlot, Chile, 2011 — €9.99

Stockists: Carry Out, Costcutter

Merlot is currently a little out of fashion as many mass market versions taste bland and confected. The sweet plum fruit in this worked well with the spicy food and it benefited from not being served too warm to increase the freshness of the wine. This also worked particularly well with the creamier dishes.

Wine under €20

Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir Rosé, Loire, 2011 — €13.99

Stockist: O’Brien’s

Produced by the top Sancerre house of Henri Bourgeois, O’Brien’s has a limited supply of this wine so I would advise buying an extra bottle or two for when the weather warms up. Light strawberry and sherbet aromas with an initial sweet red fruit flavour giving way to a clean finish – elegant and very tasty.

Trés Rioja Crianza, Saxa Loquuntur, 2008 — €14.99

Stockist: Lidl

This was one of Lidl’s Christmas wines so won’t be around for much longer. There are two lesser bottlings in the range (called Un and Dos) which are also worth trying. The spicy American oak barrels and the rich fruit made this a fine match for both the veg dishes and the spicy lamb salad.

The Bean Coffee Pinotage, South Africa, 2011 — €16.99

Stockists: Matson’s Bandon, Barry’s, Midleton; O’Driscoll’s, Ballinlough and No 21, Cork, Stack’s Listowel; Wine Centre, Dundrum and others.

Strong coffee and mocha aromas with a rich chocolate and coffee palate and noticeable oak. This wine gets its coffee flavours from French oak barrels and I loved its rich sultry flavours.

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