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How to match Indian food with English Sparkling wine

A sparkling wine and Indian food matching event at Trishna in London last week revealed its significant potential. James Evison reports.

A large bottle of cold lager such as a Cobra beer is the quintessential accompaniment to a Indian cuisine. But now it turns out a beautifully refreshing glass of English Blanc de Noirs can also be the perfect match with one of the country’s favourite cuisines.

Matching the delicacy of English Sparkling wine with the potentially strong flavours, ghee and oils of Indian cooking may sound like a jarring combination. But nothing could be further from the case, as shown at special event at Trishna in Marylebone, London.

The restaurant deals with dishes from the southwest coast of the country, using mainly fish and coconut in lightly and expertly spiced dishes. The menu proved to be a superb match for Busi Jacobsohn’s range of sparkling wines from the High Weald in Sussex, where the producer makes around 25,000 to 30,000 bottles of wine a year from five hectares of land.

The dishes

The meal kicked off with a variety of papads and chutneys served with the latest release from the vineyard, a magnum of 2020 Busi Jacobsohn Cuvée Brut.

Created only two years after the wines were in the ground, the ‘Covid vintage’ from 2020 was produced after 12 weeks of continuous sunshine in the infamous lockdown spring of 2020.

The great weather resulted in the magnum being created, which was served at the lunch unlabelled, as commercial packaging and distribution is expected sometime later in the summer.

Conversation at this point inevitably turned to the climate, and its overall impact on wine, especially in the progressively more negative stories about vineyard management against the tide of extreme weather events witnessed in most winegrowing regions of the world.

Explaining it was “all about the drainage”, co-owner Douglas Jacobsohn highlighted how the correct infrastructure had been critical to the success of the vineyard. Susanna Busi Jacobsohn added that it “acted like insurance” when the rain begins to fall.

The ‘covid vintage’ Cuvée Brut, which had spend 45 months on lees, didn’t have to worry about the English weather though, and was a wonderful match with the crispy papads and the rich, herbaceous chutneys, illustrating the potential of the pairing.

First course

This was a Nandu Varuval, a signature dish of the Chettinad culinary tradition. A crispy, masala fried soft shell crab, white crab and tomato chutney dish.

It was a balance of delicate seafood flavours, which was matched by the freshness of a 2019 Rosé Extra Brut.

The wine, which Jacobsohn described as the producer “wanting to be a blanched colour, as we didn’t want it to be too red”, was lightly pink in tone.

The delicacy of the rosé with the light seafood meat was an excellent match, with Jacobsohn pointing out the dryness, acidity and the overall “balance” of the wine and food.

Second course

The next dish was a Hariyali bream coated in green chilli, coriander and served with smoked tomato kachumber.

A well-spiced and herb-rich dish, the chilli and paprika “enhanced” and “accentuates” the flavour of the next wine to be paired — a 2019 version of the Cuvée Brut —according to Jacobsohn.

He also added that the wine was an excellent option to have with pickled herrings and mustard, as well as various other traditional Swedish dishes, alongside rye bread.

Third course

Moving onto the “main course” of the tasting menu, a 2018 Blanc de Noirs was matched with a Hyderabadi Subz Kofta, which created with Saffron, cashew nuts, almond, cardamom.

Susanna Busi Jacobsohn pointed out that traditionally the Blanc de Noirs was “good with duck and lamb”, and alongside the kofta, its red berry flavours and citrus fruits matched well with the richness of the meat.

Also a good match with chicken, turkey and seafood, the lightness of the kofta, which wasn’t overly sauced and finely spiced, worked well with the lamb, offering a refreshing and

Fourth course

Moving onto dessert, a custard apple and rhubarb kulfi with falooda, basil seeds and rhubarb confit was served alongside a 2018 Blanc de Blanc.

Having “linearity” and described as a “very good expression” by Jacobsohn, it was also stated the bottle was getting “better and better” as it aged.

With the cool, sweet, nutty kulfi, the Chardonnay grapes of the wine, which has spent 44 months on lees, provides a the lightly golden hue.

The flavours of the food and wine offered a “perfect combination” with the Blanc de Blanc’s notes of green apple, lemon zest and a “touch of baked nuts” working well with the kulfi.

A compelling partnership

In all, it was agreed the event was a great opportunity to showcase the potential of matching Indian food and English Sparkling wine.

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