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What Wine Pairs with Achar

Ok. No one is sitting down to a meal that exists of a bowl of achar on its own. With that said, if you are an achar lover like I am, you put it on every Caribbean dish you eat, especially the ones where rice is served.

As achar has a strong taste and can dominate a spoonful destined for your mouth, I think it worthwhile to look at what wines pair nicely with it.

What is Achar?

Think of achar as a condiment. The same way you would use ketchup for your fries, you would dress your helping of that one-pot rice dish with a spoonful of ahcar.

Achar (it also goes by the name of Kuchela) is a blend of green (unripened) mango, mustard, a bevy of Caribbean and Indian spices such as masala, and hot peppers. It adds a touch of unbridled savoury love to anything.

It's important to know when pairing achar that salinity is one of the dominant flavours you pick up with this 'condiment'.

The History of Achar

Achar is a Hindi word that means pickle and has deep roots in India's history, going back 4,000 years.

Though we know it as a condiment today, it was a form of pickling and preserving meats. The technique was introduced to the Caribbean by people of India who took up post there as indentured labourers, right around the time of the end of slavery.

What Wines Pair with the Flavours of Achar?

I started my pairing examination with basic wine styles that are accessible to everyone:

  1. High-acid white wine of moderate alcohol

  2. An off-dry white wine of low alcohol

  3. Light-bodied red wine

  4. Medium+ bodied red wine with oak treatment

Here's how it went down:

High-acid white wine of moderate alcohol

The wine I chose was quite complex, with many aromas and flavour compounds. It also had a medium+ acidity and a coated mouthfeel.

The wine fell flat when paired with the achar, and that acidity and complexity were hidden. The mouthfeel remained, and a little stone fruit was on the finish.

The achar changed the flavour of the wine too drastically and not in a good way.

This pairing gets a 3/5.

An off-dry white wine

While I try to do these without discussing the grape and focus on the wine style, I have to share that this was a Riesling; high in acidity and minerality, with intended residual sugar. The Riesling kept much of its characteristics, but the acidity was reduced with this pairing, and the wine appeared sweeter than normal on the palate. All characteristics were made noticeable because of the achar.

This pairing gets a 3.5/5.

Light-bodied red wine

This is a thin-skinned red grape from a warmer climate.

I selected this wine because of its body and the ripeness of the grapes due to longer hang time. It does, however, mean that this wine is high in alcohol but very well integrated.

Here, the achar accentuated the ripeness of the grapes, which worked well with the spices. Unfortunately, the elevated alcohol that was well integrated when drank on its own became uncomfortably noticeable when paired with the achar. With that said, moderately chilling this wine, which stifles the alcohol on the palate, makes this a winning pairing.

This pairing gets a 4/5.

Medium+ bodied red wine with oak treatment

Who knew oak would do achar so well?

This was a surprisingly delicious pairing. The wine became less extracted, and the oak fell into place when paired with achar. This should have been expected though, as the flavours oak imparts on the wine are the same as some of the spices used to make achar. There is a congruent happy positioning happening here.

This pairing gets a 4.75/5.


If trying to find the right pairing for achar, you want a wine with medium+ to high acidity, ripe fruit on the palate or oak integration, and moderate alcohol.

By far, the red wines worked the best with achar, which has something to do with the wines' tannins and acidity breaking down the fats from oils used in the achar.

Thankfully, none of you should be sitting down to a simple bowl of achar like I did. Your achar will be blended into a slew of other flavours, but at least now you know where to go for a wine pairing if you are an achar lover and put it on everything!


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