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What wine should I pair with Indian food?

Indian food is very tricky to pair with wine. Both the aromatic spice and the heat can really mess with your palate. If you’re looking for the perfect pairing that goes with the majority of dishes you would order in an Indian restaurant, your best bet is a Riesling, preferably from Austria, Germany or Alsace. The sweetness Riesling has balances out the spice of Indian food better than any other wine out there. Gewurztraminer is also a good choice.

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If you simply refuse to drink white, keep this one rule in mind: reds that are high in tannins or high in alcohol clash terribly with Indian food. That means avoid Cabernet from Napa, Bordeaux, Barolo, or Zinfandel. Instead, if you absolutely must have red, look for a Syrah.

I know nothing about wine, but I’m going out with my in laws Saturday night for dinner, and my father-in-law is SUPER into wine. I don’t want to look like a fool, but I don’t have time to read all of VinePair by Saturday night. Can you give me one or two tips to help me look good? Or at least, to keep me from looking like a total asshat?

If you’re going out with someone who is super into wine, and I assume is also paying for the meal, the best advice I can give you right off the bat is to defer to them. People who are really into wine — so much that they can come off as snobby — often bristle when anyone but they are charged with the duty of selecting the bottles for the table. My advice is, just go with what he chooses. The best you can do is offer up what you tend to like when it comes to enjoying a bottle: Are you more a fan of red or white? Do you like heavier, fuller bodied reds, or lighter, fruiter ones? Are you a fan of tannins, the compound in red that makes your mouth feel dry? If you give him the information, he should be able to help everyone find a bottle they will enjoy.

That said, there is a very good chance the person you are dining with already knows what he likes and cares very little for your input. Basically, more likely than not, he’s going to order what he wants. In that case, read our wine tasting 101 guide, so you can look like a pro when the glass is first poured.

Finally, definitely ask your father-in-law questions about the bottle he selected. What drew him to it? Why does he like this variety or producer? What makes it special? When is the first him he drank it?

Above all, don’t be intimidated. We have no problem asking questions about our food, so don’t fret about asking about the wine. Confidence goes a long way.

Question: My partner’s best friend just got married to a really lovely woman. The other night they came over for dinner and they brought a bottle of gin, which they brought back from their Honeymoon for us. They really wanted to share the bottle with us, but I had already mixed up Manhattans, plus my husband and I are really not gin drinkers. What’s the etiquette here? Did I have to drink the gin before being allowed to open the bottle I chose? I was so grateful for the thought, and that they schlepped the bottle from Europe, but it was just not our thing. Please advise for next time.

Etiquette here really falls on the part of the guest. If you bring a bottle over to someone’s home, there should never be any pressure for the host to open it, regardless of whether or not it was picked up from the wine shop around the corner or hauled back from some far-off locale. Unless the host specifically asked that the guest bring over a bottle of wine or liquor to be consumed with the meal, that bottle should be seen as any other housewarming gift one might bring.