Sonoma red wine blend our choice for curry dish

Beer is the first beverage we’d choose to accompany curry — something ice cold and quenching — rather than a fine wine.
But seeing that this is a wine column, we figure we better stick with what we know — or what our readers expect. When we think of wine for curry, a white wine — one that’s fruity and slightly acidic — comes to mind.

Lighter curried dishes, like chicken and potatoes or a Thai basil fish dish, call for fruity white wines. But for Ann Vogel’s lentil curry recipe, a red wine with weight and complexity is the way to go.

So, what red wine would be curry and lentil friendly? We’ll break down the dish to help us decide what wine is the best match Lentils have a nice earthy quality; tomatoes sweetness and acidity; squash adds more sweetness and body. The curry is the spice.

For a red wine to pair with this dish it needs to have at least some syrah blended in. That’s because syrah has an earthiness that pairs well with lentils. The sweet, acidic tomatoes do best with a juicy, acidic wine like a Barbera or Zinfandel. The weight of the squash matches the weight of a red wine and the spicy curry needs to be paired with a red that has a lot of fruit and low tannins.

What does this all mean?

It means we have the perfect wine in mind. Marietta Cellars Sonoma County Old Vine Red is a gorgeous blend of mostly Zinfandel and other grapes such as syrah, Carignan, Petite Sirah, and Barbera.

This wine has a sweet bouquet of spice and summer fruits, black cherries with an earthy, leathery note. Notes of plum and black currants on the palate pair with a nice balance of black pepper and a smooth, rich body.

The old vines where the grapes from this wine are sourced are planted in Geyserville, Calif. just outside Sonoma. The vineyards are planted in the traditional Italian immigrant way: a row of this, a row of that. The vines are grown together, harvested together and fermented together. Wines produced from this style of winemaking are called field blends. Back in the day, it didn’t matter to winemakers what grape name was on the label, they made the wine in the tradition of the old county by blending.

Marietta Cellars is named after founder Chris Bilbro’s great aunt, who was an Italian immigrant. He started the winery in 1978 in the Dry Creek Valley.

Bilbro produces red wines of incredible consistency, including a Cabernet, Zinfandel and Syrah.

Old Vine Red is available for around $12. But hurry, it doesn’t last very long, it’s that good.