Back in 2003 I first tasted the newly-launched range of wines from Warren Edwardes (right), a London-based wine-lover and curry fanatic, whose Wine for Spice business designs and imports a small range of wines specifically chosen for their ability to match with Indian and other spicy cuisines. I really enjoyed sampling Warren’s wines along with some moderately spicy and aromatic Rogan Josh, and could see at once how his just gently sparkling, dry to off-dry wines did a very good job of cutting through and standing up to the vivid flavours of Indian cuisine. Five years on and it was great to meet up with Warren in John Lewis’s flagship store in London’s Oxford Street, where his wines are stocked and where we were able to try them with a small range of curries of varying strengths, prepared by the kitchens of the in-store restaurant.
Born in New Delhi, Warren is of Goan and Anglo-Indian descent. But it was whilst living in London and working in the banking sector that Warren developed a passion for wine, to join his existing passion for spicy cuisine. Indeed, Warren won the Pol Roger trophy for blind tasting in 2004, and has a wide and varied interest in wines from around the world.
Although he carried out extensive research on wine styles with the potential to match with Indian and other spicy cuisines, Warren finally turned to Spain to source his semi-sparkling wines made from indigenous grapes. The three wines in his range have been subtly altered and refined since he launched the company, each crafted to suit particular styles of spicy cuisine. Viceroy White, a dry wine made from the Cava grapes Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, has only 11.5% alcohol and is suited to mildly spiced dishes. The Raja Rosé on the other hand, is a much fruitier, more robust blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo at 12.5% alcohol, suited to medium-hot spice. The final wine in the line-up is Rani Gold, an off-dry, more aromatic white made by blending 50% Muscat with 50% Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, that has the sweet edge to blunt the heat of spicier curries.
Warren is now finding success with the wines, which cost £5.99 and are available through his web site, but also Ocado online shopping, as well as half a dozen branches of Waitrose around the Southeast of England, including the new and mouth-watering food store of John Lewis Oxford Street and the Cambridge branch of Waitrose.
Viceroy White (Spain) Semi-sparkling dry
Seemed just off-dry to me, though the figures show it is technically dry, with just a refreshing, spritzy sparkle and a lovely green apple nose with very good freshness and crispness. The palate has dry apple fruit with racy acidity, and this is a perfect foil for mildly spicy chicken or fish-based dishes.
Raja Rosé (Spain) Semi-sparkling medium-dry
Pale salmon-pink colour. Lovely delicate cherry fruit. Dry and redcurranty fruit on the palates, and stays clean and refreshing, with a certain juiciness and a delightful freshness and zest.
Rani Gold (Spain) Semi-sparkling medium white
Lovely aromatics in the sweetest of the three wines, with the sweet floral notes, has a lovely capacity to knock back the chilli in hotter curries. Racy and refreshing on the palate with refined apple and dry melony fruit, and with food just a background sweetness whilst staying quite crisp.