Wines that will rock your dinner from New Dehli on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©

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This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Facebook Fan Kim Anderson asks what wine should I pair the real deal authentic Indian food with? In particular, Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh dishes.  Kim not being an expert in the area of Indian food I really had to do my homework this week.  What a great question and I have your answers.  The only question left to answer here is will you be inviting me for dinner?

Chicken Masala

Chicken Masala

Okay now we know what the most important questions of the day are, so what are the answers?  WineGuyMike™ really prefers to keep things as simple as possible and in doing so let’s consider a few things before I recommend which wine types are best suited for your particular Indian dinner wine selections.

When one considers wine and food I like to think of balance.  Balancing wine and food is a good place to start when determining what wine works best with what food.  Here are a few other things to think about when choosing a wine too:

• What wine type do you generally prefer?

• Food texture, is it heavy or light?

• How is the food prepared, is it Grilled, Baked, or Sautéed.

• What about a Sauce, Gravy, Crème, or Tomato based.

In considering balance and in this case I’m referring to weight and texture of the main food entrée and the weight and texture of the wine I would like to choose to serve with my dinner.  How am I going to cook these wonderful Indian dishes, Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh.  Are these dishes also going to be using a sauce or gravy?  There a couple of more things to think about before we go wine shopping too.

Makhani Murgh

Makhani Murgh

Just as foods have a texture and firmness wines also have a quality of texture.  Remember we are looking for balance and a synergy between wine and the foods they are paired with.  A full bodied wine bold on texture should not be paired with delicate dishes nor should they be paired with a food dish that is big on flavor.  Okay so we can rule out big full bodied wines for this dinner party.  Big wine and big flavor just don’t work well together, we are looking for harmony.  Mild food dishes do well when paired with medium to light body wines.  Kim In considering today’s menu I’m looking at the main protein, in this case chicken.  I need to consider the sauces and the spices.  The other thing I will be considering while I’m selecting wines for this marvelous dinner party is the season, it’s Summer and it’s hot and I’m eating dishes that are spicy.   

One of the most important things to understand about wine and food pairing is this; acid brings out flavors in food and helps to leave a lingering flavor on your palette.  Once you think through the food it really helps to serve as a process of elimination.  Here is what we know about your dinner selections Kim; Chicken is our main protein, we are dealing with many powerful spices, and we have heavy/creamy sauces.  Last but not least it is Summer time so I know that I want something refreshing that is light to medium in body and texture on the wine side.  I also have decided I want to recommend wines that have nice acid and fruit balance and I have a few wine types that I find earthy.  When I think of earthy I think about mineral, vegetal, and herbaceous that present themselves a bit more neutral but still have enough acid to work with your meal selections Kim.  Today I will be suggesting wines with a bit of acidity and will be light to medium bodied.  Now we can talk about our wine type choices, or at least what types of wines match our criteria for the meal we are serving.

The wine types that I recommend will vary from light to medium body:

Light Bodied Wine selections

1. Chenin Blanc

2. Rose´

3. Pinot Grigio/Gris

4. Riesling

Medium Bodied Wine selections

1. Fume´ Blanc

2. Sauvignon Blanc

3. Sancerre

These are the wine types or varietals I believe will be best suited for your Summer time dinner party Kim.  I would recommend having one white and one red wine from the light bodied category, one wine from the medium bodied category, and one full bodied Chardonnay that is not oaked to complement your dinner.

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful in putting together your dinner party wine list Kim.  Thinking about this ahead of time will lead to a much better wine shopping experience, not to mention the time you will save time not staring at too many wine bottles on a shelf.  After a few minutes all the bottles begin to look the same.  Having a wine focused dinner party can make it a lot of fun and remember this list of slightly acidic wines are suggested because they will intensify all the wonderful flavors of your Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh dinner selections.  It will also be fun to share with your family and friends all about the wines you have carefully selected with the dinner to pour for them, they will surely feel as special as they are.  There is nothing better than a great meal and a nice bottle of wine when we are sharing with people we love.

One last recommendation would be to stop in at my official sponsor Ciao Mambo, they have a great wine list with wines by the glass.  You can experience some of these wine types before you serve them at your dinner party. 

The WineGuyMike™ wine list:

1. Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend from Southwest France – Tariquet

Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay

Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay

This Tariquet  wine marries the finesse of Chenin Blanc (75%) with the elegance and structure of Chardonnay (25%). This complex wine displays delicious floral notes, as well as exotic fruit and vanilla.  A beautiful inexpensive wine to pair with today’s dishes.

2. Pinot Gris from Wine by Joe in The Willamette Valley of Oregon

2009 Pinot Gris

2009 Pinot Gris

Wine by Joe 2009 Pinot Gris;  you will experience sweet aromas of fresh cut pears, green apples and hints of vanilla and cream, this Pinot Gris will not disappoint you.  The light clean flavors in the mouth encompass citrus and green apple well-balanced by refreshing and flinty acidity for a perfect and lively finish with lingering hints of citrus rind.  You will be delighted with this classic Oregon Pinot Gris!

3. Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, California – “75” from Tuck Beckstoffer.

"75" 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Tuck Beckstoffer

"75" 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Tuck Beckstoffer

This is perhaps my favorite domestic Sauvignon Blanc, it is comprised of 80% clone one Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Musque clone, this wine is has not been through a secondary fermentation and only sees stainless steel during fermentation and aging.  This wine is vibrant with ripe summer melon, honey suckle, crushed rock and lemon oil aromas followed by great texture, richness and acidity.  This wine showcases the tremendous quality of Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Lake County region California.

4. Riesling from Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

2008 Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith

2008 Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith

A long cool awesome vintage added heightened minerality to this wine which lends to a great pairing with these  today’s food dishes.  White stone fruit, you know, apricot, nectarine, peach also satsuma and lime leaves.   This is great Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard in The Ancient Lakes area of the Columbia Valley AVA.

5. Rose´ from Napa, Oregon, and France

Vin Gris 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor

Vin Gris 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor

This lovely Vin Gris from 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor is a bright and vibrant pink color with cherry, strawberry, cranberry and ripe watermelon aromas on the nose.  When the wine first hits your palate it displays cherry and strawberry flavors with well recognized flavors of Pinot Noir. Raspberry and cranberry fruit characters are balanced with spicy and crisp acidity that linger creating a refreshing and lengthy finish.

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir This delicious wine offers aromas of fresh strawberries, raspberries, peach, watermelon and a touch of baking spices.  The aromas follow through on a rich, well textured palate that offers great intensity and persistence to the finish. 

Chateau Bonnet Rose

Chateau Bonnet Rose

Château Bonnet Rosé 2010 On the nose the wine presents welcome aromas of white chocolate, ever so mild caramel, strawberry, and mellow cherry.  Yes this wine’s aroma is as alluring as it is visually in a glass. Once this beauty hit my palate it danced in my mouth, I don’t want to say it came to life because this wine brought life to my palate.  This Rosé is well balanced with fruit, acid, and the perfect percentage of alcohol.  It is understated with nuances of strawberry and cherry, also expressing very mild pomegranate.  You will experience a perfect crispness and a mellow tartness in this wine that has a lovely and refreshing mouthfeel.

These wines receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

If you have any specific questions about wines please message me by commenting on the WineGuyMike blog at;, or on my Facebook fan page; WineGuyMike and I will answer any questions you may have.

Light Bodied Wines

Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape.  It is very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and full bodied.  This grape exhibits slight spiciness, hint of honey, and slight fruitiness and is dry.  This can be a very special wine, such as Vouvray, an excellent wine exhibiting many different styles.

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as it is commonly referred to is a very dry wine.  Some characteristics of this wine are a slightly fruity and mild spiciness.

Riesling is one of the prominent white wine grapes, a pure Riesling is complex yet delicate.  A Riesling will be light, medium dry, fruity, a mild citrus flavor, with a mellow floral aroma. 

Rose´ wines are like a chameleon, they are light and refreshing like a white wine, crisp and acidic like a white wine, BUT once on the palate have subtle nuances of the red wines we love too. Rose´ may have a very slight strawberry nuance and are made from bone dry to slightly sweet.

Medium Bodied Wines

At its best Sauvignon Blanc is a very crisp, light bodied and very dry.  They are also known as Fume´ Blancs, and are well balanced with citrus and grassy overtones.  Most of these wines are not fermented in oak, the high levels of acid balance well with the fruity characteristics of the wine.

Sancerre wines come from the Loire Valley region of France and are made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  There are two styles of Sancerre wines depending on their terrior.  Some come from marl terroir and the others come from limestone vineyards.  Marl (white soil) terrior Sancerre wines are fruity and well balanced while the Sancerre wines grown in limestone are full flavored but can be unstable.  Both style of wines have nuances of citrus (Grapefruit) and floral aromas.

Today’s Recipes

Chicken Tikka Masala is a favorite Hindi dish; this curry dish features roasted chicken chunks (tikka) served in a rich-tasting red or orange-colored sauce.  The sauce is usually creamy, lightly spiced and contains tomatoes.  Chicken Tikka Masala has been found to be one of the most popular dishes in British restaurants and it has been called a “a true British national dish.”

The origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are disputed.  An expert on street food declared that the dish originated in Punjab during the last 50 years while another view is that it originated in the first Indian restaurants in Soho, London, during the 1970s.

Chicken Tikka Masala is chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala (“mixture of spices”) sauce.  There is no standard recipe for however tomato and coriander are common ingredients.  The sauce usually includes tomatoes, frequently as puree; cream and/or coconut cream; and various spices.  The sauce or chicken have a beautiful rich orange color as a result of spices and sauce components such as turmeric powder, paprika powder and tomato puree.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipe source;

Why this recipe works:Our goal was to develop a simple chicken masala recipe with readily available ingredients. To get there, we rubbed the chicken with a mixture of salt, coriander, cumin, and cayenne, then dipped it in yogurt mixed with oil, garlic, and ginger. For a year-round tikka masala recipe, we chose the broiler rather than the grill and cooked the chicken in large pieces to prevent it from drying out. (less)

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala(combination of warm spices seasons the masala sauce). The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Ingredients for Chicken Tikka

1/2teaspoon ground cumin

1/2teaspoon ground coriander

1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon table salt

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat

1cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)

2tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

1 ablespoon grated fresh ginger Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves Instructions

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Makhani Murgh

Recipe source;

Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is part of the Indian cuisine, popular in most countries throughout the world.  The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Kundan Lal Gujral, a Hindu Punjabi, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal Delux in Delhi.  Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.  

Dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried, depending on convenience or the chef’s preference.

Makhani, the sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (Hindi: kasuri methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavor of the dish.

Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended.  The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and kasuri methi.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed

8 green cardamom pods

10 cloves, lightly pounded

10 whole black peppercorns

1 (1/2 inch) piece cinnamon stick

3 serrano peppers

2 teaspoons ginger paste

2 teaspoons garlic paste

1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 cup cream


1.Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the chicken in the hot oil until completely browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2.Wrap cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth and secure with elastic or twist-tie.

3.Blend the serrano peppers, ginger paste, and garlic paste together in a blender until smooth; add the crushed tomatoes and blend again until integrated. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan; add the water, paprika, and the spice bundle to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the volume of the liquid reduces to about half. Add the browned chicken to the liquid and stir. Cover the saucepan and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Stir the salt and fenugreek seeds into the mixture and continue simmering another 5 minutes. Remove the bundle of spices and discard. Stir the butter and cream into the mixture; simmer until the butter is melted completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

'from my table to yours"

'from my table to yours"


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