With the nights drawing in and the global economic crisis continuing many of us will be giving up on big nights out and opting instead for cheap nights in. There are many worse ways to spend a Friday night than with a takeaway dinner and a bottle of white wine.
However, how do you choose a white wine to drink with a takeaway? For most of us a takeaway is a cheap and cheerful meal rather than a gourmet experience and we would tend to accompany it with a beer or a soft drink, assuming that a good bottle of white wine would be wasted on a convenience meal.
Yet that need not necessarily be the case. Often, the quality of food from a takeaway business is as good can be found in many restaurants; the only difference being that we are eating it in the comfort of our own home rather than in swanky surroundings. Therefore whether you are planning to stay in with fish and chips, chicken korma, chop suey or pizza it’s worth choosing a good white wine to accompany it.
The quality of fish from many fish and chip shops is excellent so it certainly deserves a good white wine. White fish and white wine are natural partners although as the flavour of the fish is often quite delicate then be careful not to choose a big New World white. Having said that, frying the fish in batter increases the flavour to a degree so allows for something more than the lightest of white wines.
Cod is a favourite chip shop fish and its delicate flavour can be overwhelmed by white wines with too much oak, fruit or acidity in them. The best pairings for cod are soft, unoaked Chardonnays from France, Italy or Australia or gentle Sauvignon Blancs from Chile, Spain or Bordeaux. A gentle Chardonnay works well with plaice too – as does a Muscadet or a Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne or a light Italian white such as Frascati or Soave.
Haddock is best matched with a soft Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blend from Bordeaux although a Soave is also pleasant. Hake is also good with Italian white wines such as Vermentino, Soave Classico and Verdicchio whilst halibut is partnered well with soft Sauvignon Blancs (although avoid those from New Zealand as they are too aromatic), unoaked Chardonnays and, once again, Italian Soave.
The problem with Chinese and Indian takeaway meals is that often a range of different dishes are ordered and shared and finding a suitable white wine to bridge the tastes of all the different dishes can be difficult. However, there are a few whites which can fulfil the role of a bridging wine and there are plenty of whites to choose from if you want to concentrate on an individual dish.
The best way of finding a white wine partner for a range of Chinese dishes is to avoid the sweetest, stickiest dishes and stick to the bland and slightly sweet meals. In this case the best matches are a Spanish Valencia, Champagne, a German Halbtrocken such as a Riesling or Silvaner or a young Australian Riesling.
Sweet dishes such as sweet and sour chicken need a sweeter white wine. Mosel Riesling Auslese makes an enjoyable accompanying wine as does a Vouvray.
Thai takeaway food has the same problem as Chinese in that a range of dishes are usually shared and the dishes vary in sweetness. However, even the sweeter Thai dishes seem to be able to cope with some of the dry or medium dry whites so it is easier to find a wider choice of bridging wines. The best choice is a Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Upper Loire Valley region such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume or Quincy. You could also try white wines made from grapes such as Colombard, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and Champagne and Muscadet Sur Lie also go well with most Thai dishes.
It is better to drink white wine with Indian food than lager as you avoid the chilli burn encouraged by the lager’s fizz. However, if you want to drink white wine with Indian food then avoid the relishes and chutneys as these tend to kill the wine.
Again, an Indian take away tends to comprise a number of different dishes so the challenge is to find a white wine which will make a decent match with them all. The best bridging whites tend to be aromatic such as Viognier, New World Sauvignon Blanc or Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne.
Basic cheese and tomato pizzas are best matched with fresh, light Italian whites. Try a Pinot Grigio, northern Italian Chardonnay or a Frascati.
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