Battle for what to drink with a curry heats up

An interesting public relations battle is being waged over what to drink with your curry – Britain’s national dish

On the one side – beer drinkers.  The makes the case:

“India pale ale was shipped from London and Burton-on-Trent for colonialists in India to enjoy with spicy food and the relationship has been strong ever since. Beer offers a range of alcohol levels, flavours, colours and styles that match any Indian dish far better than wine could ever hope to. From a delicious, highly-hopped IPA that can cut through spicy flavours to a refreshing and thirst quenching golden ale or lager, there is simply no contest.” 

The lager lovers are fighting moves from wine makers – such as , based in the north-west of England, which is spending £1m this year on a campaign to persuade restaurants and customers, especially women, to drink “curry-time” wines.

How easy is it to change a “tradition” like lager and curry?  Is behaviour easy to influence by linking into a trend for wine drinking?  Will the media coverage generate sufficient discussion that we might be persuaded to try the promoted products?

Which side of the battle are you on and what tactics would you use to persuade others of the merit of your chosen drink with curry?

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

4 thoughts on “Battle for what to drink with a curry heats up”

  1. I drink beer only occasionally and usually when I do it’s with curry (home-cooked). I’ve tried various wines with curry and other spicy food and it doesn’t work for me. We went to a lovely Thai restaurant in Ireland a couple of weeks ago and I must say the Guinness worked really well with my green curry. Will my mind be changed by marketing? No, because I’ve worked it out for myself.

  2. My name is Ashraf Sharif. I am the principle of Baltiwines and I believe Battle for what to drink with curry is a great idea. As beer is easily, available every where and most people have probably already tried it ,my range of 5 BaltiWines for spicy food are new on the market and have limited availability so far. I also believe that every one should be able to enjoy a bottle Baltiwine before deciding and to be able to make considered decision, so I promise that any body who is of legal drinking age, and who wishes to try my Baltiwine for this campaign, can through my web site request a bottle of Balti wine free of charge and I will pay the postage too. On requesting, your free bottle of Baltiwine please mentions Battle for what to drink with our national dish. And let the battle commence.

  3. Richard – as I understand it, these wines have been “created” to work with curry. Hence Ashraf’s offer is a great way to perhaps see if that is right.

    Ashraf – thank you very much for the offer. This seems like a brilliant idea and a way to prove your argument.

  4. And then there’s me, Warren Edwardes. I am the founder, principal and ceo of Wine for Spice and designer of a three strong naturally semi-sparkling range.

    My credibility comes from my Goan/Anglo-Indian roots so I have eaten curries all my life. An on wine I won the Pol Roger Cup 2004 for blind wine tasting, sponsored by Pol Roger and chaired by Jancis Robinson MW.

    My three babies are very different indeed from Ashraf’s Balti Wines so there is definitely room for us both and indeed lager. No war. But a piece of the growing market for providers to all tastes. Unlike Ashraf I’m not giving away any freebies but I’m out and about at Country Shows and Food and Wine Fairs where we can chat and you can try samples of my wines. No multi million PR campaign from me I’m afraid. Give me a ring on 020 7724 4606 and I’ll talk to you about my wines.

    So how did I create the range?

    Well from 3 pillars:

    cool refreshing Lager of course,
    sparkling Cava and Champagne
    and the usual aromatic Alsace whites

    So lets look at lager:

    cool refreshingly sparkling. But lager is open vat fermented and then has artificial gas injected into it! Injected gas is easy in easy out.

    And lager and ale contain hops that provide bitterness. But I don’t associate bitterness with a refreshing drink. if I do drink a beer with a curry it would be a hop-free Wheat/White beer. Nice and banana/tropical fruit resonant and refreshing

    sparkling Cava and Champagne

    Very refreshing indeed. And unlike lager, Cava and Champagne contain natural CO2 which is through second fermentation. So the bubbles are finer and easier on the stomach (and less burpy) and stay in the liquid longer. However Cava and Champagne contain about 6 atmosphers of CO2 pressure.

    Aromatic whites such as Gewrztraminer

    I used to drink a wonderful Spanish version by Torres – Viña Esmeralda. I found it just a tad to perfumed after the first glass and a half.

    So as Wine for Spice’s principal what are my principles? Basically Yin and Yang. My wines complement rather than compete with the food.

    The wines can be summed up in one word – REFRESHING – a cool refreshingly sparkling alternative to a cold gas injected burpy lager.


    • First, the wines are all naturally semi-sparkling through second fermentation. Carbon Dioxide enhances taste and adds natural acidity when dissolved thereby adds to the mouth watering feel. But a fully sparkling wine or beer has too much gas and lager has gas injected producing large bubbles leading to bloating with food. And being semi-sparkling (2.4 atmospheres) rather than fully sparkling (about 6 atmospheres) the UK Customs Duty is as for still wine.

    lager cold

    • Second, drink the wine cool to ice-bucket cold – So thirst quenching like a cold lager.

    good acidity

    • Third, a refreshing wine also should have a good level of mouth-watering acidity. Think lemon juice – the classic Indian “Nimboo Pani”.


    • Fourth, no mouth-drying tannin. Furthermore, tannin is exaggerated at low temperatures. So unlike Balti Wines no red wines at all from me. I have a Rose made from 100% red grapes which is left on the skins for 18 hours long enough to get the best from the skins but without tannin. A red wine is fine if you want to exaggerate the chilli heat. The saliva is dried out by the tannin just as the mouth seeks refreshment.

    no oak

    • Fifth, the wines are also free from oak, which clashes with spices such as cumin, coriander and ginger giving a bitter, harsh after-taste.

    moderate alcohol

    • Sixth, moderate alcohol; a good degree of alcohol is required to provide body but excess alcohol over 13% can add to the burning sensation of chillies. Take a sip of vodka before and after biting into a chilli to feel this. Furthermore, my wines are so moreish that you will find yourself drinking quite a bit. So my wines have between 11.5% and 12.5% ABV.

    sweetness rising with spiciness

    • Finally aromatics, fruitiness and sweetness in the range rise in relation to the chilli heat of the accompanying dish. This is based on my Goan Grandmother’s trick of adding some sugar to an over-hot curry. Suck on a sweet before and after biting into a chilli to feel this. But unlike some wines such as 100% Gewurztraminer or Muscat which can be over-aromatic and too flowery and sickly after a glass, all of these wines are balanced with natural acidity and are refreshingly sparkling.

    And because the wines were designed to be refreshing they are refreshing not only at curry-time but also in the summer-time and anytime.

    see and


    Warren Edwardes
    Wine for Spice
    020 7724 4606

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