Chicken Tikka Masala pairs best with wines that are high in acidity, have a kiss of sweetness, and are low in alcohol such as Riesling, Barbera, Lambrusco, Sparkling Rosé, Zinfandel.  If your Chicken Tikka Masala is not spicy, bolder red wines such as Zinfandel, Ribera del Duero and Syrah make for excellent choices.

Chicken Tikka Masala is a creamy tomato sauce dish that contains lots of heavy cream, coconut cream, butter and mixed spices, including toasted cinnamon, peppercorn, cumin, and coriander.  Chicken is traditionally used, however, beef, pork, and tofu make for acceptable substitutes.

Best Wine with Chicken Tikka Masala

Red WineBarbera (DOC)Chicken Tikka Masala
Sparkling WineSparkling ShirazChicken Tikka Masala
Sparkling WineSparkling Wine, RoséChicken Tikka Masala
BeerWeissbierChicken Tikka Masala
RoséRoséChicken Tikka Masala
White WineGrenache BlancChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineNebbioloChicken Tikka Masala
Sparkling WineSparkling WineChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineRibera del Duero - CrianzaChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineZinfandelChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineGrenache Shiraz Merlot (GSM)Chicken Tikka Masala
BeerWheat BeerChicken Tikka Masala
White WinePinot BlancChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineLambruscoChicken Tikka Masala
Red WinePinot NoirChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineBeaujolais VillagesChicken Tikka Masala
White WinePinot GrisChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineCôtes du Rhône, RedChicken Tikka Masala
Red WineShirazChicken Tikka Masala
SherrySherry, FinoChicken Tikka Masala
SherrySherry, ManzanillaChicken Tikka Masala
White WineGewürztraminerChicken Tikka Masala
White WineChenin BlancChicken Tikka Masala
White WineViognierChicken Tikka Masala
White WineSauvignon BlancChicken Tikka Masala
White WineRieslingChicken Tikka Masala

Sparkling Rosé & Spicy Chicken Tikka Masala Pairing

Sparkling Wine is always a great choice with spicy foods as it’s low in alcohol, refreshing, and bubbly.  All of these characteristics ensure the spicy heat of the Tikka blend do not burn your mouth, or hang around in between sips as the bubbles and refreshing acidity zip the fats and spices away from your tongue and cheeks.  However, Sparkling Wine is rarely bold in flavour, thus, a Sparkling Rosé stands up a little better to the bold and savoury flavours of Chicken Tikka Masala.

A Sparkling Rosé will feature tart flavours of raspberry, strawberry, cherry and cranberry that swim beautifully beside the creamy tomato Masala sauce.  In addition, you get all the palate-cleansing benefits of a Sparkling Wine, so each bite of Chicken Tikka Masala will taste just as fresh as each bite.  Without high acidity, the creamy and butter flavours would layer upon your taste buds, so in order to taste more, you end up shoving more food into your mouth.  Thus, Sparkling Wine helps you eat less!

Rosé wines are not popular in North America among males (who often feel emasculated due to the wine’s pink colour). Therefore, if you are holding a dinner party, select a red wine (or beer – most lagers and ales will go great with Tikka Masala) for the men.  It’s such a shame as Rosé wine nearly goes with just about anything – something the Europeans have known for centuries.

Barbera & Chicken Tikka Masala Pairing

An Italian Barbera high in acidity is wonderful with Chicken Tikka Masala.  Barbera d’Asti is lighter-bodied and has a higher acidity than Barbera D’Alba, which is fuller-bodied.  Thus, for spicy Chicken Tikka Masala, pair it up with a Barbera d’Asti.  And for Chicken Masala (which features less heat than Tikka Masala), select a Barbera D’Alba.

In general, Italian Barbera is low in alcohol and acidic, so it will come across as refreshing.  You’ll also find lovely flavours of cherry, blackberry, plum and raspberry that add further enjoyment to this pairing.  Meanwhile, Italian Barbera is also going to have a rustic edge, so you’ll find lots of notes of smoke, earth, mineral, herbs and spices to complement the ground spice mix used to create your Chicken Tikka Masala.

Ribera del Duero Crianza & Mild Chicken Tikka Masala

If you use chicken thighs vs chicken breasts for your Chicken Tikka Masala, a youthful Ribera del Duero Crianza cuts through the fat of this rich dish as well as match the toasty Masala spices.

Ribera del Duero is a Spanish red wine featuring Tempranillo that is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  When it’s not aged very long in oak, it is classified as Crianza and won’t be overly tannic, like its oak-aged siblings.  Featuring notes of earth, meat, smoke, herbs, licorice, spice and wild game, Ribera del Duero gets along great with the rich spices of the Tikka Masala sauce.  Meanwhile, you get contrasting flavours of black cherry, blackberries and strawberries that keep you refreshed in between bites.

Zinfandel & Mild Chicken Tikka Masala Pairing

A middle-of-the-road Zinfandel (something that isn’t too expensive, or boozy) makes for a wonderful pairing with Chicken Masala as this is a refreshing and acidic red wine that contrasts the savoury flavours of the Masala sauce.  Rich with juicy flavours of blueberry, raspberry, black cherry, blackberry and plum, Zinfandel is a chewy fruit bomb that merges well with the sweet tomato flavours of the Masala sauce.  You’ll also find notes of smoke, black pepper, cinnamon and clove that complement the tandoori cooked chicken and the Tikka spices.

Middle-ranged Zinfandel won’t see much oak ageing (as oak and ageing are expensive), so your Zinfandel will come across as refreshing due to its high acidity.  The high acidity also ensures the wine won’t clash with the tomatoes.  Red wines high in tannin and low in acidity are abysmal with tomato sauce as they end up tasting flat and metallic as they clash with the tomato’s acidity.

If you feel like Zinfandel will be too bossy and fruit-forward with the poultry flavours, go for a lighter red wine or pair up Zinfandel with Beef Tikka Masala.

Riesling & Spicy Chicken Tikka Masala Pairing

An aromatic off-dry Riesling is fantastic with spicy Chicken Tikka Masala as the slight sweetness of the wine helps put out the fire in the hotness of the spices.  If you’re one of those people who got blackout drunk on a sweet Riesling in someone’s basement in your youth and have avoided it since, I assure you, there are Rieslings out there that are not that sugary.

Off-Dry Riesling means there is only a kiss of sugar, meaning the wine is still dry but has enough sugar to counterbalance the heat of your Tikka Masala.  Refreshing flavours of green apple, apricot, lime, peach, and nectarine all swoop in and take away some of the fire building up in your cheeks.  There’s also plenty of mineral, smoke and stone flavours in Riesling that complement the Tikka spices in your Masala.

Most importantly, Riesling is acidic, meaning it jives with the high acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce, as well as cuts through the fatty coconut, cream and butter that would normally cling to your taste buds.

Chicken Tikka vs Chicken Tikka Masala

The main difference between Chicken Tikka and Chicken Tikka Masala is that Tikka Masala contains more spices.  Masala refers to an Indian spice blend that contains brown spices such as cardamom, cumin, coriander, cloves and cinnamon. As Chicken Tikka Masala is spicy, you’ll want to keep dry wines that are high in alcohol away from this dish as the combination will set your mouth on fire.

Chicken Tikka Masala vs Chicken Marsala

The main difference between Chicken Tikka Masala vs Chicken Marsala is that Masala refers to a mix of spices, where Marsala is a fortified wine from Sicily.  Chicken Marsala is a dish that does not contain tomatoes either, but rather, it’s a rich mushroom, herb, minced garlic/shallot, and Marsala wine-based sauce.