Pairing Wine With Chana Masala

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This is a delicious, hearty main course Indian dish consisting of chickpeas (white or black), onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and rich indian spices that is usually topped with freshly cut onions and cilantro. This vegetarian/vegan dish is popular as it is filling, highly nutritious and can be served with naan, roti, or rice. Great choices to enhance our dining experience with chana masala would be wines that are fresh, fruity, low tannin and low alcohol. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Chana Masala

Characteristic Detail 
Sweetness  Dry-Sweet
Acidity  Medium Plus-High 
Tannins  Low to Medium
Body  Light -Medium  
Notes  Red and Black Berries, Citrus, Orchard Fruits, Tropical Fruits,  Herbs, Spices

Best Red Wine to Pair with Chana Masala

The best reds to pair with a spicier dish such as Chana Masala, as mentioned above, should be lower alcohol as to not amplify the heat from the chillies in the sauce, and have a low-medium tannin level as to not overpower it. Also, the heat from the dish may cause a higher tannin wine to have unwanted astringency, which is another reason to avoid it. Higher acid wines are best to brighten up the more grounded notes of the dish, creating a perfect pairing and thus elevating your dining experience.


This is a grape varietal that hails from Burgenland in eastern  Austria, and is rarely seen outside of it. Its medium tannin and medium alcohol levels provide the structure to stand up to chana masala, but not bold enough to overpower it. The black cherry, blackberry, and light spice complement the earthy notes of the chickpeas and the aromatics of the dish by both highlighting these aspects in each other. Its necessary higher acid level is a great palate cleanser, making it an ideal choice.

Chianti DOCG

This wine is lighter in tannin and body than Chianti Classico DOCG and Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, which is more ideal with a dish such as chana masala as to not overpower it. The characteristic high acidity of this wine is ideal as a contrast with the deeper flavor characteristics of the main course. Sangiovese is the main grape in Chianti DOCG, and its tomato-leaf and italian herb notes (such as rosemary, oregano and thyme) bring out the herbaceous notes of the cilantro and spices of the dish.


This northern Italian grape is often overshadowed by Nebbiolo but has its own commendable food-friendly qualities. This low tannin, high acid wine is ideal for chana masala as the high acidity brightens the pairing while the lower tannins allow the nuances of the dish to stand out. Bursting with both black and red fruit, and soft sweet spice, it brings out the fruitiness of the tomato and the chana masala’s herbal and spicy nature. Look for examples that say Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba, which would be more pronounced in flavors compared to some others.


This is an often overlooked wine made in northern Italy that specializes in sparkling red wine, ranging from dry to sweet. These wines have medium plus-high acidity levels, making it deliciously ideal  to pair with food such as chana masala, and its bubbles will cleanse the palate to be ready for the next bite. The fact that it is a red sparkling wine already makes it interesting to guests, but also the bright berry notes will stand up well to the bolder spice notes without the lower tannin level overshadowing it. Whether the wine is dry or sweet, both would go well with a spicier dish such as chana masala.


This is a highly unique wine also from northern Italy, often found in the Alto Adige region. It has confected candy-like notes of strawberry bubble gum, and cherry popsicles while still being dry in sweetness levels. Like many other Italian reds, its high acid level makes it ideal for food pairings to enliven the pairing, and its faint herbal nature complements the herbal notes of the chana masala. Its lower tannin level makes it highly ideal as to not take over the pairing, leaving the main course to fend for itself in the balance. 

Best White WineTo Pair With Chana Masala

Chana masala, with its burst of fresh flavors from the tomatoes, onions and cilantro topping, and its grounded notes from the garlic and ginger, alongside its rich spice component would benefit from a white wine pairing that is also fresh, fruity, lower alcohol and zesty acidity. Try one of  these to try to impress your guests and to elevate their dining experience.

Gruner Veltliner

This signature white wine from Austria is well known with wine and food enthusiasts to be quite food friendly with a variety of dishes. Its lime zest, gooseberry, sometimes dragon fruit,and white pepper qualities highlight the chana masala’s spice and vegetal characteristics. The fruit forward nature of the wine is heightened by the grounded notes of the dish, providing a tantalizing contrast.

Off Dry or Sweet Riesling

Like many spicy dishes from India or Thailand for example, a high acid wine with some residual sugar will brighten the dish as well as temper the heat. Riesling tends to be quite pronounced in aroma and flavor, which provide an uplifting effect to the dish’s lower-toned flavor characteristics with its apple, pear, wet stone and honeysuckle attributes. Its intense aromatics mirror the aromatics of the chana masala, creating a perfect balance. Choose one from the Mosel Valley in Germany as these wines have a tendency of having some level of sweetness to them.


These wines are most typically found on the eastern coast of Spain in a region called Riax Baixes. They are light, refreshing, high acid and lower alcohol wines with notes of nectarine, peach, cantaloupe, lime zest and due to the proximity of the ocean – salinity. The high acid refreshes the palate and prevents it from experiencing fatigue in the wine and food pairing, and the intense fresh fruity aromatics of the Albariño will highlight the fresh tomato, onion and cilantro topping. Additionally the brininess of the wine is complemented well with a well seasoned chana masala. They tend to be fairly cost-efficient, so this is a great opportunity to try it out!

Moscato d’Asti DOCG

If one were to ask what the most aromatic white wine is in the world, many answers would point to Moscato or Muscat. The lychee, rose, honeysuckle, persimmon, and pear notes are highly pronounced and instantaneously bring out the best of the chana masala’s qualities such as the fresh vegetal flavors and the symphony of eastern spices. This wine has residual sugar, giving it the perfect method to temper the heat of the chana masala. You can find Moscato/Muscat wines from many places around the world, but Moscato d’Asti DOCG is well known for its pronounced intensity. Because of the halted fermentation process to retain residual sugar, the alcohol level is surprisingly low (often under 7%), making it an ideal wine and food pairing with a spicy indian dish such as chana masala.

Rosé Champagne

Although this is a rosé, it falls well under the white wine category as much of the production processes are similar to white wine making. These high acid, medium alcohol wines pair beautifully with intensely flavored indian dishes that are fragrant with aromatics and spices. The fresh strawberry, cherry and raspberry notes will complement the grounded notes of the chana masala. As it is a Champagne, it has a mandatory lees aging requirement which provides the wine with notes of brioche and toast, making it complementary to the neutral aspect of the chickpeas. The characteristic high acidity of the wine will balance out with the richer notes of the dish.

Best Wine to Pair With Chana Masala

So many intriguing options around the world for wine and food pairings with chana masala. Certainly look for options that are lower in tannin (if red), high acidity, dry or off dry, and still or sparkling. A great rule of thumb for spicy dishes is to avoid wines with higher alcohol levels which have a tendency of increasing the burn of the spice to a level that is often unenjoyable. Therefore choose wines that will temper the spice level of a dish such as chana masala that have low to medium alcohol levels.