The Golden Child: How to Pair Wine With Turmeric | Wine Enthusiast
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The Golden Child: How to Pair Wine With Turmeric

Though it’s an indispensable spice in many African, Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines, turmeric is underappreciated in the U.S., where it was once known mostly as what makes French’s mustard and curry powder yellow. That’s rapidly changing, as its nutritional properties have made it a popular dietary supplement. The medical community may be divided on its medicinal efficacy, but no one can argue that it’s not a delicious addition to any meal. Even better, there’s a wide variety of apt pairing wines when you encounter a turmeric-based dish.

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Earthy” can be an overused term, ascribed to greens, grains, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, root veggies, wine and much more. Yet few foods so blatantly smell of dirt and fallen trees as turmeric. Pairing it with Pinot Noir from Burgundy pits earth against earth for a curious play on how each expresses it in different ways.



Turmeric is in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, and has much in common with it—especially when fresh—though is a bit less citrusy and more peppery and woody. Verdelho is one of the major grapes used for Madeira, but it’s also made as a crisp dry wine in Portugal, Australia and elsewhere, where it shows tropical and floral notes alongside warm gingery spice.



As the primary ingredient in most spice blends labeled in the U.S. as “curry powder,” turmeric is inextricable from curry. And just as curries go well with sweet touches—fruit, coconut milk, chutneys—so does turmeric (desserts flavored with it, such as custards, are delightful). Try an off-dry sparkling wine for a festive play on this flavor combo.



Turmeric’s scent can recall “hot” spices like black pepper and dry mustard. Additionally, turmeric-based recipes often have gentle heat due to its affinity with chili peppers. Tavel, an all-rosé AOC from the Southern Rhône, is a dry but full-bodied rosé with deep red-fruit flavors that both stand up to turmeric’s power and round out its sharp edges.

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10-Minute Turmeric-Coconut Shrimp

This easy sauce is also great for pouring over chunks of fish, chicken thighs or steamed clams and mussels. Just be sure there’s plenty of rice to soak up the sauce.

Whisk together 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, 1 tablespoon each of ground turmeric, fish sauce, lime juice, honey, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil in a skillet over high heat and cook at least 5 minutes, until reduced and thickened to a creamy consistency. Reduce heat to low, add 1 lb. large or jumbo shrimp, and cook, stirring once or twice, just until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.

This article originally appeared in the April 2024 of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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