I have tried a lot of interesting food and wine pairings, but I never thought I would be enjoying beef curry and Carmenere together. Chile's signature red grape, Carmenere has an earthy, spicy, savory quality to it that is utterly unique. My first thought for the ideal food match would be a grilled steak or a juicy burger, but a beef curry turned out to be a most unexpected, welcome pleasure with these rich, bold red wines. What factors contributed to the curry and Carmenere working so well together? Two things come to mind.
First, though there was a good dose of curry powder in the dish, it added spice rather than heat. If this was a curry loaded with a blow-your-head-off amount of hot peppers, I'd be reaching for a beer instead of a glass of Carmenere. Second, the wine spent a half hour in the fridge, softening the heat of the alcohol in the wine, making it more food-friendly. Incidentally, I think this is a good practice for many red wines. If I could get on my wine high horse for a moment, there is a tendency at home and also at restaurants for red wines to be served at an uncomfortably warm temperature. Introduce your red wine to your refrigerator, I implore you! (But don't let them get too cozy.)
What are some unexpected food and wine pairings you've had success with lately? And how do you feel about having your red wines spend a little time in the fridge before you drink them?
Full disclosure: The wines were provided by Wines of Chile. They also had the idea of putting curry and Carmenere together, for which I am thankful.