Using Wine to Balance Heat in Spicy Cuisine

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Traditionally, people drink wine with sweet and savory foods common to a eurocentric palate. However, for wine-lovers who do not limit their culinary worlds to european fare, it is a relief to find that wine can be consumed with any cuisine found around the world. The challenge is in pairing wines with flavor profiles that are completely different from european food, and it requires a new approach to choosing a beverage. This is particularly true as food lovers move further into the world of spicy cuisines such as those from India, Mexico, and Thailand. Luckily the wine world has developed a new set of rules that serve to guide wine choices for hotter meals.

  1. The intensity of the food must be matched by the intensity of the wine. (This is directly counter to the european model where wine is only paired with food that has a more powerful flavor.)
  2. Flavors in the wine should contrast, rather than complement the flavors in the spicy food. HIgh acidity in wine counters chillies well, but if the spice comes from acid, seek a wine that will ground the palate instead.
  3. Sweeter and fruitier wines offer a refreshing break from the burn of high-spice meals. Avoid the traditionally prized tannin-rich or oaky flavors, as these will amplify the heat of a meal and burn your mouth. Dry wines are not your friend with spicy food for the same reason. Surprisingly, sparkling wines and rosés, often looked down upon in high-wine culture, are considered the most refreshing options for spicy meals.
  4. All wines should be served cold. Chill even the reds (think about sangria). The reason for this is simple: the literal temperature of the wine will counter the spice-born heat from the food.

For further help, here are some specific recommendations:

Red Wines


White Wines

lighter-bodied chiantis are similar to rosés in their relation to spice.

Most Rosés
Light, sweeter wines. This makes a rosé typically a good choice for spicy meals.

Semi-Dry counters the heat of spice

made with a variety of wines, but the sweetness of additional fruit arms the wine to stand up to spice.

Vin Gris
Drier variation of the typical rosé. Still light enough for spicy food, but not as sweet as most rosés. A good option for those who typically drink red.

Sauvignon Blanc
Fruit-based notes counter the spice and refresh the palate.

Young bottles are delicate enough to enhance mild spice rather than amplify heat.


Pinot Gris
Simple, fruity wine contrasts the intensity of spicy cuisine

Sparkling Reds
Light sensation from bubbles helps refresh the palate. Choose a sweeter version to enhance this.


Sparkling Whites
Light sensation from bubbles helps refresh the palate.

Using Wine to Balance Heat in Spicy Cuisine

With these new rules to guide you, cheers to spicy cuisine!

Susan Anderson is a blogger and locavore-oenophile who also writes about wine storage and maintenance for Vintage Cellars.

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15 thoughts on “Paneer Manchurian

  1. apanirasoi said on November 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Nice Recipe and blog.

  2. devashree said on October 26, 2012 at 3:34 am

    easy recipe

  3. Praveen Kumar said on March 19, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Depending on one’s taste you can add mushrooms.

  4. Shushma said on March 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

    can we add mushrooms in this recipe?

  5. hrithik said on September 2, 2011 at 2:05 am

    it is nice .10/10

  6. hrithik said on September 2, 2011 at 2:02 am


  7. pyaar said on December 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    recipe is too good, and gets an awsm taste

  8. Snehal said on September 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    paneer manchurian with egg marination??????

  9. ishu kalra said on March 23, 2010 at 5:01 am


  10. akshaya said on March 20, 2010 at 10:36 am


  11. ritu said on January 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    what kind of flour are you using besides cornflour??

    you haven’t mentioned anything about paneer whether to soak it in water before the process or due we need to marinate the hard paneer without soaking it?? doesn’t it be hard??

  12. Praveen Kumar said on September 26, 2008 at 3:25 am


    Egg white is optional. So you can either add or not. depending on your taste.

  13. Ria said on September 26, 2008 at 1:09 am

    It does have egg white as one of the ingredients though.
    So I wouldnt call that 100% vegetarian.

  14. Praveen Kumar said on March 16, 2008 at 7:18 am


    yes this is vegetarian.

  15. brian said on March 16, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I would like to know whether this receipe of manchurian is vegetarian

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