Raise a toast to fine wine & a great meal

While wining and dining go together, pairing them well can make a meal memorable. Abhay Kewadkar suggests some must-try wines with Karnataka’s traditional dishes
Last Updated 27 January 2020, 19:30 IST

With four geographical regions, the state of Karnataka offers cuisine which is as diverse as the topography of each region. The sixth largest state by area in India, Karnataka was home to some of the oldest empires in the history of India. The state’s rich and diverse history has found its way in the cuisine that each corner of the state showcases.

From interesting vegetarian options to cuisines that are meat-heavy to ones along the coast that celebrate the fresh catch from the sea, the state offers variety to both vegetarian and meat, seafood lovers.

Historians say Karnataka’s cuisine is one of the oldest surviving cuisines in the country dating back to the Iron Age. The challenge then is how do you pair this with wines to enhance the experience of both the consumption of the food and the wine.

Like all other southern states, Karnataka uses souring agents extensively along with coconut with the staple carbohydrate being rice. Wine being a delicate drink, it is generally tricky to pair with anything too spicy or too sour which rules out a few of the vegetarian signature dishes in the cuisine from this state.

Here are some handpicked popular dishes paired with varietals that truly take the gastronomical experience up a few notches.

When it comes to the state’s cuisine, it is clearly divided into north Karnataka, south Karnataka, the coastal cuisine which is primarily Mangaluru and Udipi, and the Kodagu cuisine which includes the famous food from Coorg and the neighbouring hills.


The cuisine of north Karnataka and south Karnataka is mainly vegetarian which highlights the extensive use of ragi and sorghum.

One of the signature vegetarian dishes patrode, which is part of the Kodava cuisine, goes really well with a Sauvignon Blanc.

From the coast in Mangaluru, the Kane (ladyfish) fry which is a speciality of the cuisine, goes really well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc, depending on the level of spice. These varietals are a better match when the spice level is low.

When the spice level is taken up a few notches, especially with the use of red chilli powder, the recommended bottle would be that of an off-dry style Rose.

Another preparation that can be beautifully paired with wine is the kori gassi which is generally served with akki rotti. A medium spiced kori gassi dish goes well with a Chardonnay.

If the dish is made spicy, a bottle of off-dry style Chenin Blanc is a good match.

Coorg’s cuisine is quite meat heavy, with the pandi curry (pork curry) being a signature dish along with Kadumbuttu. A medium-bodied fruit-forward Shiraz handles the masalas best.

For dishes such as koli (chicken) curry and nool puttu, bembla (bamboo shoot) curry with votti (rice rotti), a light to medium-bodied red wine such as Gammay, Merlot and Sangiovese are ideal.

An unconventional pairing, but one that works, would be mutton curry and ragi mudde, with a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz.

The general rule is to pair white meat (including fish) with a white varietal and bolder flavours which are spice heavy or have red meat in it, with red wine.

Desserts, depending on how rich or light they are, can be paired with either a rose or a red wine.

The idea is to encourage people to try different pairings, experiment with different wines and then deci

de what appeals to them the most, as each one of us has a unique palate.

Like everything else, when it comes to wine too, the same rules don’t apply to all.

(The author is MD, Tetrad Global Beverages Pvt Ltd)

(Published 27 January 2020, 19:30 IST)

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