Tandoori Chicken is an Indian cuisine favourite, consisting of a roasted chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, in a tandoor, which is a clay oven (and is often used for cooking naan bread). Fruit forward, earthy and smoky red wines like Pinot Noir, Shiraz, or Zinfandel pair best with the smoky and earthy notes of Tandoori Chicken. Meanwhile, off-dry but acidic whites like Riesling or Gewürztraminer assist with lowering the heat with a spicy Tandoori Chicken.
Pinot Noir & Tandoori Chicken Pairing
Red wine with white meat might seem unusual, but with Tandoori Chicken, Pinot Noir is a must. Tandoori chicken has lots of smoky flavours that make the dish tend to match the weight of beef. With Pinot Noir, you have a lighter styled and fruity red wine, with deep notes of smoke, earth and forest floor which complements the earthy, spicy and smokey notes used in the Tandoori Chicken marinade.
With Tandoori Chicken, we would suggest a fruit-forward Pinot Noir, which features lively wild strawberry and fresh cranberry flavours. These juicy notes will help lift the chilli powder, turmeric and paprika spices used in the marinade away, giving your tastebuds a break.
Shiraz & Tandoori Chicken Pairing
Shiraz will go well with Tandoori Chicken as long as the dish does not have a lot of chili heat. Aside from its delicious black plum and blueberry flavours Shiraz has wonderful pepper notes that complement the smoky and spicy notes of Tandoori Chicken wonderfully.
Finding the right Shiraz might be a little tricky as you want to seek out one that is low in alcohol and tannin, but high in acidity to pair best. Seeking out the perfect Shiraz is well worth the effort as the exotic spices used in Tandoori Chicken bring out the fruit notes even further.
For spicier versions of Tandoori Chicken, we’d lean more towards a sweeter or sparkling styled red like Lambrusco.
Zinfandel & Tandoori Chicken Pairing
Zinfandel is a red wine features bright fruit flavours of strawberry and plum, along with a mysterious smoky edge that complements the Tandoori Chicken perfectly. The refreshing nature of Zinfandel, with its touch of sweetness ensures that it can handle a low level of spicy heat while still making for a delicious pairing.
Beaujolais & Tandoori Chicken Pairing
Beaujolais is made from the Gamay grape and is low in tannin and alcohol, but high in acidity. As it is low in alcohol and tannin, it should handle any low to moderate spicy heat without making your mouth feel like it is further on fire.
Fun and lively, Beaujolais is alive with fruit flavours like pomegranate and blackberry, which keeps things dancing as you are enjoying your meal and wine.
Off-Dry Riesling & Tandoori Chicken Pairing
With spicier variants of Tandoori Chicken, sweeter or sparkling styled white wines are a good direction to go. The wine will put out some of the heat, so you can enjoy all the earthy and smoky flavours of the food.
Off-Dry Riesling is only slightly sweet, and depending on your tolerance of heat, it should offer enough refreshment against any spicy chilli peppers used. Riesling also delivers electric notes of tangy citrus that love to mingle with food and lift out all the subtle flavours it has to offer. Thus, when enjoying your Tandoori Chicken, everything will taste enhanced before the flavours are washed away by each sip of Riesling.
As you turn up the heat in your Tandoori Chicken, you can shift to either sweeter or sparkling styles of Riesling, which will further contain the heat.