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About this Episode

Certified sommelier and wine educator Grace Hood and Robert Tas offer insight into the wine list at Sona, an elegant Indian restaurant located at 36 East 20th Street. 

Finding the right wine for spicy food is never easy, but Grace is here to provide the expert advice you need when pairing wine with Indian cuisine. Grace identifies a few stellar bottles on the list, ranging from the value wines to those special occasion bottles. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • Domaine Damien Martin St Veran chardonnay
  • Nicolas Jay pinot noir from the Willamette
  • Domaine de Billiard gamay noir
Transcript: Sona


RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grace Hood, wine educator and certified sommelier. Hello Grace, it’s great to have you!

GH: Great to be here as always!  

RT Before we jump in, let’s talk about those wine lists. We created CorkRules to help demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: Today we’re chatting about the fabulous Indian restaurant here in New York City, Sona. Now Grace – when I think Indian food, I don’t initially think wine. How are we going to approach this wine list?

GH: I totally get that Robert! Alcohol in general is not something widely consumed by the Indian community in general, seeing as they are a fairly religious and devout nation. Indian food and wine pairings weren’t really even put on the map till the famous Michelin star-rated Chef Gaggan Anand started his fine dining restaurant in Bangkok. I have a personal connection to the restaurant as I am friends with their former sommelier – I follow him on social media and would be totally fascinated with the types of wines he would pair with the chefs' regional Indian dishes.

RT: Oh, I loved the Gaggan episode of Chefs Table on Netflix. So beautifully shot. So how will we be approaching the wine pairings for Sona?

GH: Just like you would any other types of cuisines! We’ll look for wines that complement the spice profiles of the dishes, whether they’re savory, spicy, smoky, sweet etc. And we’ll also still pair wines that will work well with the proteins or vegetables in the dish. Like we were talking about a few podcasts back, Asian food which tends to be spicy and herbaceous, pairs really well with wines with a lower alcohol and higher sugar content, like rieslings and Gewurztraminer.

RT: You’re totally right. I have full faith in you Grace. So where do you want to start us?

GH: Just from first glance, this wine menu is really well organized and user-friendly. Not only is it broken down into the usual categories of sparkling red White rose etc, b ut they also have expanded within those categories, with the wines going from light to médium to heavy. I always appreciate a well thought out list. So to start out with sparkling which is the secret wine pairing for all food pairing, I would go with the Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rose. Ultra brut just means extra dry, and that crispy acidity will really be able to stand up to all the complex flavors of the Indian dishes but won’t get lost on your palate

RT: Totally get that. What should we look for when moving into whites?

MV: Well they have one of my all-time favorite light whites on the menu – txakolina – which is a really aromatic super light and delicate white from the San Sebastian region of Spain. If you’ve ever seen photos or videos of people with their arms stretched out, pouring wine from what looks like a skinny pitcher, which is called a porron, then that is txkolina! You’re traditionally supposed to pour it from like 2 – 3 feet from the porron to the glass, but that definitely takes practice to do well! I can do it from about 2 – 2 ½ feet away. And the reason that they’re pouring it like this, and what sets this wine apart from other white wines, is that it’s slightly effervescent. Not properly sparkling like a crémant or a cava b/c it doesn’t go through a secondary carbonic fermentation, but when you drink txakolina, it just kind of slightly dances on your tongue, like lightning bugs on a summer night.

RT: Gosh how poetic Grace! Love the way you describe wine. I’d like to see you try to pour that porron as well!

GH: Haha oh man I haven’t done it is years, but for you Robert and for our listeners, I would absolutely give it a go

RT: You’re too good to us Grace

GH: Now – if we wanted to go with one of those traditional Asian food pairings – Sona has a few lovely options for rieslings. I would choose a classic style of German - the Clemens Busch Trocken from the Mosel region. If we’re looking for a slightly heavier white for some of the Indian vegetable or rustic cheese dishes, I would go with the Domaine Damien Martin St Veran Chardonnay from Burgundy


RT: Love it. Those are all great options for Indian cuisine. Where are you going to steer us when we head into reds?

GH: So this is definitely where we will need to pay attention to the sauces and spices in the dishes. If you are looking for a dish with a spicy tomato-based sauce, then we’re going to go with a lighter fruiter wine to balance out the spice! The Nicolas Jay pinot noir from the Willamette would be a great option, as well as the Domaine de Billiard gamay noir from Burgundy. Now if we’re going for a richer heartier meat dish, we’re going to want a wine that will stand up to those fatty components and complement those rustic flavors – the Torres red blend from Priorat Spain would be an awesome bottle or even the malbec from Chateau Combel-la-Serre from Cahors France.

RT: Awesome – I’m craving some palak paneer now! What are your picks for value wines and some special occasion bottles?

GH: Ya know, the one category we didn’t touch on that also pairs fabulously with Indian food, is rose! And thankfully, rose is always one of the most affordable wines, and this list was no exception. I would do the Bodegas Muga rose from Rioja, Spain. And then for your baller bottle, it'll have to be the Krug Champagne. And then on the red side, for the value, I would order the Familia Torres Celeste Crianza from Ribera del Duero in Spain. And then for your special occasion red, going to have to be the DRC – Domaine Romanee Conti!

RT: Amazing. Grace, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Sona.

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.  If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@corkrules.com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. Follow us on social media @corkrules and @wineswithgrace


And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.


Thank you.







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