Food matching: British-Indian food with English wine

Remember back in the Spring when we were experimenting with pairing Leicester-grown sparkling wine with some of our best Indian fine dining? Well, we’ve been at it again this week, this time checking out how Rothley Wine Estate‘s current still wine offering matches up to some of the tidbits on the menu at Lilu Fine Dining.

Pickle tray!

The Boy and I were invited for dinner as guests of Rothley Wine, the generous lovely people, and we took along a bottle each of the 2015 King Richard, Battle Royal and Fearless to see how they paired with Lilu’s contemporary twist on Indian food. I thought right off the bat the Fearless was excellent with the poppadom and chutney tray – particularly going well with the sweet-sourness of the tamarind chutney and also complementing the flavours of the mango and mint chutney. A fine start to the meal!

Fearless – the shock winner of the pairing exercise

I was really impressed at how the Fearless had come on in the few weeks since I last tasted it. It’s still a really young wine, only recently bottled, but it has settled really well and developed some real character in terms of balance of crisp acidity and slightly more aromatic citrus notes.

It had surprising versatility in terms of the amount of dishes it paired well with too. We were given an aloo tikka pre-starter and I felt that it had the boldness of flavour required to set off the earthy cumin really well.

Mixed grill starter

Onwards and upwards, and with my mixed grill starter, again the Fearless won out for that innate capability to deal with complex and earthy spicing, but with the salmon, with its creamy marinade and delicate, slightly sweet tender flesh, it was the rose – Battle Royal which was the obvious winner. The Pinot Precose within the rose lent just the right amount of strength and texture which matched that creaminess while the fruitiness paired the sweet salmon flavour without overpowering. Liz, owner of Rothley Wines also had a salmon starter and she was in total agreement with this pairing.

Delicious coconut prawns

The Battle Royal also was an interesting match with the grilled prawns which combined sweet, spice and chargrill flavours – again being just light enough to bring out the best in the exotic flavours without either overpowering.

Rogan Josh (left), Ranieri Rack (right)

For me the King Richard was great with my main – the Ranieri Rack of lamb which was beautifully tender with a Cajun spiced rub and intense madras sauce on the side. They had just the right proportion of mutual sweetness to bring out the best in each other, while I found the wine also served to intensify the depth and complexity of the spicing. Perhaps that is the aromatic notes in the wine.

The Boy had a beautifully flavourful Rogan Josh and he declared for Fearless, with its intensity being just enough to stand up to the bold spicing. We were both pleased to discover how well the Rothley Wine whites paired with these two lamb dishes, when of course red is usually considered the best accompaniment. I think this is testament to the light touch that Lilu give their lamb, really allowing its natural flavour and the quality of the meat to shine.


We had a go with the puddings, but I can’t say any of the wines really matched. But here’s a picture of my halwa anyway because, y’know, pudding…

Many thanks to Rothley Wine for their kind invitation to dinner and for providing the wine! And thanks to Lilu for once again providing such a satisfying feed!!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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