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Côtes du Rhône” – setting the Gastro scene

Indian cuisine looks complicated to prepare but if you have grown up watching your seniors cook, it is definitely a no brainer. And even better when you sit down with friends and savour the flavours with the perfect wine. When it comes to pairing Indian food with drinks, people always seem to prefer beer or cider. And I wonder why that should be so, when there are some stunning wine regions that do full justice to the depth of flavours that Indian cuisine offers.

Receiving an invitation from Côtes du Rhône wines to join Hari Ghotra’s Friday curry cooking club was quite an exciting feeling. Wine regions that recognise the importance of addressing a wide range of wine drinkers are able to harness the creative skills of their winemakers, who in turn get inspired to produce versatile styles of wines that makes the region popular. After all, today’s consumer is experimental and adventurous as well! Côtes du Rhône is pushing the boundaries for not just wine producers but also stimulating consumers to think out of the box when it comes to experimenting and pairing their wines with spices. This is an appellation that has the fruit power and the flavour intensity along with the right climate and vinification expertise to capture the interest of a big chunk of the emerging, global consumer base.


Tikka Masala Recipe package with Côtes du Rhône wines


A brilliantly organised cooking session that was detailed, with step by step explanation from Hari. Before the session, I was sent a lovely package consisting of traditional Indian spice jar with fresh spices, tikka masala pack and a sealed pack of naan bread and Basmati rice to cook at home. Lockdown doesn’t make one-on-one interaction easy but her video is very easy to follow and the recipe is deliciously tempting to cook! The spices packed by Hari Ghotra have adequately measured quantities of freshly ground spices with clear instructions and sequence of using them. Even beginners can easily understand and follow her recipe.


Pairing French wines with French food while still works, has become clichéd. The desire to evolve and adapt wine styles to address a diverse palate is becoming imperative and rightly so, as consumers develop a more experienced palate. Rhone valley wines show the dynamism of their winemakers to bring out creativity through constant innovation in styles.

Wines of Côtes du Rhône are known for their easy appeal but should not underestimated, for the different grape varieties have to be seamlessly blended in harmony to create wines that are soft, smooth and supple. This does take a lot of effort. A massive appellation with a myriad soils ranging from sand, clay to rocks and pebbles, Rhone is the second largest appellation just behind Bordeaux. It is also one of the oldest appellation where ancient Romans settled in and started to cultivate grapes. It is worthwhile taking a look at the versatility of appellation of Côte du Rhône and its ability to match with spiced flavours, particularly with Indian cuisine. The dominant grape is Grenache but Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan are also allowed to be used in reds. For the whites, dominant grapes are Grenache Blanc followed by Viognier, Clairette, Bourbolenc, Rousanne and Marsanne.

Stages of cooking Tikka masala from top left

Here are my two recommendations on foods that pair beautifully with Côtes du Rhône.


Chicken or Gobhi Tikka Masala with Côtes du Rhône Blanc by Gabriel Meffre – A classic white wine from the region available at Waitrose, the wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne and packed with lush fruits, baked white peach, pear, lemon, mango. The fruits in the wine match elegantly with the spices of the food and its crisp fresh acidity pulls the spices along finishing long and intense, tempting you to take another bite of the tikka masala.

Chicken or Vegetable Biryani with Côtes du Rhône Rouge by Gabriel Meffre –  A medium bodied fruity wine showing ripe red plums, raspberry and cherry tones, soft juicy tannins, this is a great wine to pair with Veggie or Chicken Biryani. The fresh ripened fruit flavours calm the spices and the soft underplay of tannins adds a degree of smoothness in the palate.

Both wines are available at Waitrose.


Have you tried Côtes du Rhône wines with Indian cusines? If you are ordering a curry next time, do experiment with these wines. An even better idea would be to sip a Côtes du Rhône wine while cooking your curry. It does get the palate set for a mouthwatering meal!



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