Video: Pairing Wine & Spicy Dishes from Vij’s Restaurant

Pairing Wine & Spicy Dishes from Vij's Restaurant

How do you pair spicy foods with wine?

What happens to the taste of wine when you turn up the heat in a dish?

That’s exactly what we’re going to learn from our guests who join us live from Vancouver. Our guests this evening work together to create one of Canada’s best restaurants, renowned for both food and wine. Celebrity Chef Vikram Vij is the author of numerous best-selling cookbooks, has been on hit shows such Chopped, Top Chef and Dragon’s Den. He’s also the first Indian chef to earn a sommelier degree.

Head sommelier Sean Nelson became Western Canada’s youngest Advanced Sommelier in 2016, and is now working toward coveted the Master Sommelier designation.

And they join me live now from Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Vikram Vij and Sean Nelson!

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We’ll be simultaneously broadcasting on Facebook Live, YouTube Live Stream and Twitter Live Video via Periscope.

You’ll find upcoming and past Live Tasting Videos here.

If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:

Here’s a sampling of our lively discussion from our tasting…Vikram Vij Video Chat

Mark Lai8:59 I think most people think of beer as the default when eating spicy food, but I love a gewurztraminer or a full bodied red like shiraz. I look forward to hearing their thoughts on this

Rick Dalderis4:54 Cheers..from Los Gatos, CA. No problem pairing wine with spicy food. Looking for some new wine matches and recommendations for spicy food. 🍷

Dhirendra Miyanger46:52 Indian food is all about enticing the senses …wine does the same …match made in heaven…and in Vikram’s hands they create perfect harmony..

Sam Hauck15:25 Hello, Natalie, Vikram and Sean. Vikram has done so much promoting BC wines and I always enjoy attending events where he is speaking.

Dhirendra Miyanger6:46 there was a comment about new wines with spicy food , perhaps Sean Nelson can talk about Albarino from Uruguay with Spicy food.


Dhirendra Miyanger32:08 …or great rieslings , or montepulcianos, bardolinos, falanghinas, sicilian reds with a touch of funk…all great old world pairings …

Lori Kilmartin31:40 I find most Indian restaurants (at least in Ottawa) don’t have very many wines on their list. Why is that?

Lori Kilmartin58:03 You both confirmed my belief that sparkling wine is a great pairing with all kinds and types of food!

Lindae Thomas54:31 Sean your great grandfather would be so proud of you and would love to have a glass with you. Probably Reisling

J.P. d’Entremont57:49 Love Indian food, and didn’t know anything about the wine pairings. Very informative. Great session. I now wish I was having Indian for dinner tonight.

Katarina Andersson0:18 Riesling from Alsace is often a good solution…or, for ex., the Rosé wine by Val delle Corti in Radda.

Beverly Asleson53:50 Sweet answer Sean, having a bottle of wine with your Great Grandpa, family is so important. Cheers

Dhirendra Miyanger50:48 More than a chip on the shoulder Vikram …a whole balti of bombay aloo

Dhirendra Miyanger36:06 Yaaaay!!!! Nik Weis , the humblest winemaker i have had the grace to meet.

Beverly Asleson58:15 Your restaurant is on my bucket list.

Beverly Asleson50:06 What pairs with Pinot Noir- I like it with sushi, how about spicy food?

Beverly Asleson39:26 so your recommendation is white wines for spicy foods?

Lise Charest Gagne55:59 I’m going to pick up this book fascinating

Lise Charest Gagne1:00:53 The tannins keep drying our mouths

Lise Charest Gagne46:33 I’m just starting to eat spicy food in my 40’s what should I make that won’t blow smoke out my ears

Lise Charest Gagne43:30 Any Canadian sparkling on the menu?

Lise Charest Gagne36:46 Prince Edward County is pumping out some amazing sparkling Riesling

Lise Charest Gagne30:45 How do you pair rose sparking wine with spicy food?

Lise Charest Gagne5:45 Gentleman what’s in your glass right now cheers!


Dhirendra Miyanger55:41 wow! Vikram you just broke so many hearts….by saying Butter Chicken is not…

Dave Head48:21 Laughing Stock Portfolio paired nicely with our wedding last summer

Lori Kilmartin55:56 We have a great Indian restaurant here in Ottawa. The Clay Oven!

Lori Kilmartin47:58 Do you get some people that want tannic wines to make the food EVEN spicier?

Dave Head41:41 Lori the wine list is on the restaurant site

Lori Kilmartin54:13 Great answer. That’s why I drink with my daughters now!!!’

Carrie Mac Donald49:33 We have an Italian now in Vintages at 17%…organic

Dave Head35:37 Always on topic we are drinking Drei Dona Pruno, Sangiovese, but we had Italian last night

Lori Kilmartin43:46 Ohhh nice – I love your sparkling by the glass line-up!!

Carrie Mac Donald42:31 There are no rules. It is all about personal pallate

Lori Kilmartin38:39 Do you have more white than red? Lots of sparkling?

Lori Kilmartin37:48 How big is your wine list at the restaurant?

Jessica Luongo20:58 That’s a wonderful story Vikram!

Sam Hauck1:02:03 Biggest surprise tonight was the PX pairing. But with that sauce on the venison it all makes sense.

Carrie Mac Donald31:48 So typically, what was Indian food paired with then?

Sam Hauck42:23 How many wines by the glass, Sean?

Sam Hauck36:44 The Kung Fu girls was a very pleasant surprise.

Dhirendra Miyanger37:38 …and salinity which rewards with indian food

Rick Dalderis56:21 Tonight’s show was a “Hot & Spicy” affair! Applause, Applause!! & Cheers!

Dhirendra Miyanger30:15 Indian food is all about enticing the senses …wine does the same …match made in heaven…

Dhirendra Miyanger20:45 Highest honour to touch someone’s feet , very gracious Vikram…..

Rick Dalderis22:51 Vikram and Sean,What are some of your favorite BC wines?

Alan Cameron32:29 The best pairing is Vij and Sean !!!

Alan Cameron0:35 Hey…I’m here without wine right now !

Mark Lai58:43 love it! good advice. look forward to my next rip to Vancouver

J.P. d’Entremont27:56 Enzymes in dairy reacts with hot spices and counters or neutralizes. Do certain wines have similar enzymes?

J.P. d’Entremont22:54 Wine and food is not only about the taste and aroma, but experiences. You both shared great experiences.

Mary-Jane McKitterick1:02:17 very helpful. Esp red wines and Indian food – New World Syrahs and Pinots – can’t wait to try

Diane Russell Kiser54:49 You have encouraged me to try different styles of wine with Indian food!

Leela John44:57 Alexandria from La Frenz is a good white wine to pair also

Dhirendra Miyanger14:36 Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Rose for a rainy day in Vancouver

Lindae Thomas17:04 How often is Sean choosing Canadian vintages?


Carrie Mac Donald46:54 Meiomi!

Sam Hauck53:20 Vij and Sean need to come back soon.
Rick Dalderis8:56 Any wine recommendation from India?


Heather Proctor52:27 I like Pint Grigio with a curry.

Murray Johnston1:01:45 Romani Conti or Petrus

Mark Lai21:22 Fabulous story. I have goosebumps. Thanks Vikram!


Heather Proctor51:36 🎹Bev, P G. Great with lamb

Dhirendra Miyanger1:00:53 Indian food is all about enticing the senses …wine does the same …match made in heaven…and in Vikram’s hands they create perfect harmony..

Dhirendra Miyanger42:38 …or great rieslings , or montepulcianos, bardolinos, falanghinas, sicilian reds with a touch of funk…all great old world pairings …

















































































Vikram Vij was born in India in 1964 and lived in New Delhi and Bombay until the age of 20, when he went to study, live and work in Austria. While he was there he received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School. Vikram moved to Canada in 1989 to work at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta.

Vikram became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild in 2000, and is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine.

The Vij’s Group of Companies:

In September 1994, Vikram opened Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver, BC. In early 1995, a passionate and a creative Meeru Dhalwala joined him, and the two began collaborating on the menu. Over the past 20-plus years, Vij’s Restaurant has become renowned in Vancouver, across Canada and globally as one of the finest Indian dining experiences in the world. In 2003, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman said of Vij’s that it was: “…easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” In December 2015, Vij’s moved to a new, larger location on Vancouver’s Cambie Street.

In 2004, Vikram and Meeru opened a second restaurant and market called Vij’s Rangoli. A more casual space, Rangoli catered to a lunchtime crowd, and being right beside Vij’s, it became a favourite for those looking for a less formal dining experience. In March 2017, Rangoli moved into the space formerly occupied by Vij’s – at 1480 W. 11th Avenue. With later opening hours, and a focus on a specially created drinks menu and late night Indian bar snacks, Rangoli is the most recent addition to South Granville’s growing afterhours community.

Vij’s At Home is a line of prepackaged gourmet curries, based on popular recipes from Vij’s Restaurant. In order to keep up with the growing demand for the packaged meals in BC, and to expand the availability of the products across Canada, a purpose-built food production facility in Surrey, BC, was constructed as the headquarters for Vij’s Inspired Indian Cuisine in early 2011 where the packaged meals are cooked by hand.
Now the product line is carried by hundreds of retailers across Canada.

Vij’s foods are also available as part of his catering services at BC Place stadium, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver and at Whistler/Blackcomb mountains. Vij’s hot and takeout foods are also sold as part of the From Our Chefs range at select Loblaw’s City Markets in B.C.

In June 2014, Vikram opened his third restaurant, My Shanti, based in South Surrey. The theme of My Shanti is based upon Vikram’s culinary travels, and includes flavours, ingredients and influences from all over the world. Within weeks of opening, My Shanti received a nomination from Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine as one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants and has since won multiple accolades.


In June 2011, the BC Food Processors Association honoured Vikram with the Rising Star Award. In October 2011, he was awarded The Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Pacific Region’s Hospitality and Tourism category. In April 2015, Vikram was named Chef of the Year in Vancouver Magazine’s prestigious Restaurant Awards.

Vij’s Restaurant also received the magazine’s Best Indian Award in 2015; and in 2016, My Shanti won the Gold award in that category. In 2014, My Shanti was named Best New Restaurant by the Globe and Mail. The Surrey Board of Trade named Vikram as Surrey’s Business Person of the Year in 2014, and Drishti Magazine gave Vij’s the Innovation in Gastronomy Award in 2015.

Vikram received the Chevrolet Ingenuity Award for exceptional creativity and skill at RBC’s 2015 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards. In 2017 My Shanti was named Best Restaurant in Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langley in the 2017 Georgia Straight Golden Plate Awards.

Television and Media:

Vikram was a guest judge on Top Chef Canada in 2011 and 2012 and he was the guest of honour in a 2013 Top Chef Canada episode dedicated to Indian cuisine. That episode also featured the Vij’s At Home packaged foods, which were sampled by the contestants. He was also a judge on the first ever Chopped Canada show, which premiered on Food Network Canada in January 2014 and he appeared weekly on CBC’s Recipe to Riches which began in February of 2014.

October 2014 saw Vikram make his debut as the first Indo-Canadian Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. He took his place in the Den alongside esteemed entrepreneurs: Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickenson, David Chilton and Michael Wekerle. During Vikram’s time in the Den, he invested in a number of new businesses and continues to work with the entrepreneurs involved.

In March 2013, Vikram hosted the world’s first ever live-streamed cook-along, Cook Live With Vikram Vij. As part of Vikram’s goal, to make Indian cuisine accessible to all, people were encouraged to join him live online and cook a family meal at the same time, taking instruction from an award-winning chef. They were able to Tweet questions and photos as the curry was being prepared. The first cook-along received more than 10,000 hits.

Vikram released his autobiography in spring of 2017, entitled Vij: A Chef’s One Way Ticket to Canada With Indian Spices In His Suitcase. It tells the story of his journey to Canada thanks to his mentor Ivor Petrak,former manager of the Banff Springs Hotel, and the growth of his businesses over the past 30 years.

Vikram is also the co-author of three cookbooks with Meeru Dhalwala: Vij’s: Elegant & Inspired Indian Cuisine, Vij’s At Home: Relax, Honey and Vij’s Indian.

Philanthropic Work:

Vikram has long been involved with the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia, Farm Folk City Folk Organization, Ocean Wise Sustainable Seafood, UBC Farm fundraisers and the Green Table Society. As well,Vikram and Meeru’s dedication to the work done at UBC resulted in the funding and opening of Vij’s Kitchen, a state-of-the-art culinary learning facility at the University of British Columbia, dedicated to teaching the chefs and nutritionists of the future about ethnic food and cuisine.

In 2015, Vikram also donated 120 kilos of food to The Longest Swim – Ben Lecomte’s swim from Tokyo to San Francisco to raise awareness about the state of the world’s oceans.
In June 2015, Vikram and Meeru received honorary Doctorates of Law from Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and in May 2016, Vikram and Meeru were honoured with Doctorates from the University of British Columbia.


Sean Nelson

Sean was born in White Rock, BC and grew up in Greater Vancouver. He entered the Hospitality industry at age 16 with a job at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar. He worked with The Keg for 6 years from Dishwasher to Lead Server before being bitten by the wine bug and leaving to learn more about Wine
and Hospitality.

He worked with the Gem Hospitality Group for the next 5 years, opening and managing several restaurants while completing his WSET Intermediate and Advanced certification with Distinction, during which time he travelled through France and Italy to experience some of the classic regions of Europe.

In 2012 Sean moved to Australia and travelled the country before stopping to work in Adelaide, a stone’s throw from the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, and McLaren Vale.

In 2013, upon returning to Vancouver he took the job of Sommelier at Vij’s Restaurant.

In late 2013, he began pursuing the Master Sommelier Diploma by completing his Introductory Sommelier Certification with 100% on the examination. In 2014 he passed his Certified Sommelier Exam and in 2016 passed his Advanced Sommelier Examination on the first attempt to became Western
Canada’s youngest Advanced Sommelier, one of only 5 in British Columbia. He is currently planning to sit the Master Sommelier Examination in 2019.

Vij’s Restaurant has been awarded back to back Platinum Awards at the Vancouver Wine Festival Wine List Awards of Excellence in 2016 and 2017 and in 2017 was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 10 Wine Restaurants in Canada.



Hmm, do you wonder how to pair wine and spicy foods? What happens when you turn up the heat in a dish? How does that affect the wine? That’s exactly what we’re going to learn from our guests tonight on the Sunday Supper Club. Welcome everybody, I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at And you’re here live with me on Facebook, YouTube livestream, and Twitter via Periscope where we gather every Sunday at six p.m. to talk to the most intriguing people in the wine and food world. Now before I introduce our guests I would like to know if you actually do find it difficult to pair wine and spicy food? Give me a yes or a no right in the comments below. Do you find this one of the hardest pairings to make? I’m also going to make sure that everybody can hear and see us. Let me just, Alan Cameron has joined us from Ottawa. He’s going to look for some wine soon, good evening. Good, guys I hope you can hear and see. Let us know if there’s any problem with the tech tonight. All right and remember you want to share this video as well. Our guests this evening work together to create one of Canada’s best restaurants renowned for both its food and wine. Celebrity chef and author Vikram Vij has created or written several, numerous I should say, best-selling cookbooks. He has been on hit shows such as Chopped, Top Chef, and Dragons’ Den. He’s also the first Indian chef to earn a sommelier degree. Head Sommelier Sean Nelson also joins us tonight. He became Western Canada’s youngest advanced sommelier graduate in 2016 and is now working toward a coveted Master Sommelier designation. They join me live now from the restaurant in Vancouver. Welcome Vikram and Sean.


Hi, Natalie.

Hi guys, thank you so much. This has been such a popular topic already in just the promotions. Now I’ve just shared some of the top-line details of both your backgrounds. Maybe you could take a moment to fill in some of the details that I missed. Maybe starting with you, Vikram.

To be honest with you, before I became a chef and a sommelier I actually wanted to be a Bollywood actor.

Ah, okay excellent.

My father said no son of mine is going to become an actor. I said I should become a chef because he doesn’t realize it that when the chefs open their doors at 5:30 it is our stage. We are performing. We are entertaining, we are laughing, we make sort of fun, and having a great conversation. That is theater.

That is great, I love that you’ve associated filmmaking with the theater of the table. I mean Vikram, that’s exactly my partner and I, we debated for many years should we go the ballet? We never have enough time. We thought you know what? Our theater is right here in the restaurant. We love it, so I love that you view it that way as well. Sean, what can you fill in for us?

That’s so funny too, because I at one point as well also wanted to be an actor. I went to film school, I did a theater degree. At the time I was working in restaurants and I was making excuses for not going and doing acting, saying that I was on stage at the restaurant. I was practicing my craft. But I fell in love with the hospitality industry and continued down that path until I got to where I am today. Numerous steps and growing as a sommelier, as a hospitality professional.

Wow, I’ve heard such good things. I cannot wait to actually go to your restaurant.

We’d love to have you.

It’s just renowned, everybody speaks so highly of it. I love the fact that you’re top of your game in your cuisine and you take wine so seriously. I mean seriously you have fun with it, but you also really value wine and your wine list. You were recognized I think by was it Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator?

Wine Enthusiast.

Wine Enthusiast yes, for your restaurant list. And of course the Vancouver Wine Festival has awarded you, has recognized the work that you do with your food and wine pairings. That’s pretty amazing. Wow, so we are going to get into some very specific wine and food pairings tonight. But before we do that we always love to hear some stories. I’m just going to go over to Facebook and make sure everybody’s good over there and can hear and see us. I will see, oh welcome Beverly, and Allen, and Anne, and Rachelle. Everybody’s coming in the virtual door here on Facebook into our little wine bar. Our virtual Vij’s tonight. Let me just make sure and all is good, okay. Let’s talk about first kind of your, the exact moment that you realized, Sean we’ll throw it to you first this time, that you wanted to be a sommelier or at least to work in the wine industry, wine, hospitality, food.

I started my career in the hospitality industry at The Keg Steakhouse which I’m sure a lot of our viewers know. Very prominent steakhouse chain in Canada. I worked there for a number of years as a dishwasher, busser, bartender, a server. Worked my way up. You reach a certain point when it’s just not enough. I needed more, I needed to learn more, I needed to be mentored more so I went to seeking other places to work. I found a four-diamond seafood restaurant in White Rock, where I grew up, that was looking for staff. I worked under the owner and the sommelier there. I learned a lot and I remember one night the manager, the owner was walking through the restaurant. He saw a bottle of 1998 Leonetti Merlot from Washington state that was in the cellar. There was a little bit of a leak coming from the top of the bottle. You could see wine dripping at the top. He said, can’t sell it, we’ve got to open it. We should drink it. Myself and our wine director and the owner went into the office and we opened this bottle. I tasted it and I was blown away. I didn’t know wine could taste like that. I didn’t know wine could do the things that that did. It was a light bulb. From that point on I was like, I have to do this.

You were hooked.

-wine I was hooked, absolutely.

Absolutely great, and Vikram I’m coming right to you. I’m just going to welcome J.P Don Tramone’s here. Hello, looking forward to the conversation. Jim Clark has joined us, hello. Lise Gagne, gentlemen what’s in your glass right now? We’re going to get to that, Lise. Murray Johnson says good snowy evening. Carrie MacDonald is here, I love Washington wines. And ooh I’m going to not pronounce this correctly. So feel free to put your pronunciation in here. Dhirendra Miyanger.

Ah, Dhiren is here.

Dhiren, thank you, Dhiren is here. There was a comment about new wines with spicy food prep. Sean can talk about Alburino from Uruguay and spicy food. We are going to get to that for sure.

Sure we will.

Vikram, do you remember the moment exactly you knew you wanted to cook, to be a chef, to be in the food world?

As I said, I wanted to be an actor. My grandfather every day would drink a bottled of scotch and would be come sit on my lap. I would run, sit on his lap. And he would say you know, when you open up a restaurant I would like to be the bartender of your restaurant so he would drink for free. Ever since a young age I had this thing in my head that I wanted to open up a restaurant for my grandfather. Now obviously scotch being an Indian or British drink that was, I decided to go to Austria to study and become a chef. When I went to Austria to become chef I realized that hard liquor was just a drink that you had so that I could either have it before hand or the end. But with the food it was the that were really beautiful, paired really well. Obviously at that time burgundy was such a big deal. Whether is was the Pinot Noir or the Chardonnays. I loved that whole wine culture that’s sitting there that you know where thecomes from, a classic bubble. Then when the fois gras comes you have a little with it. That matching of food I almost used to feel like this is like a match made in heaven. We are just here to enjoy it.

Wow, that sounds fantastic. I just wish you would open, I was talking with Sean about this earlier. I wish you would open a restaurant here in Ottawa. We need that kind of care for the wine list with different cuisines. Even where perhaps a wine industry and wine growing wasn’t traditional where the cuisine grew up from. It’s just marvelous. Okay and Mark Lai is here. I think most people think of beer as the default when eating spicy food. I love Gewürztraminer and a full-bodied red, like Shiraz. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this. Excellent, and Rick Deldaras, any wine recommendations from India? That’s interesting, do you have any wines from India on your list?

We don’t have any wines on the list right now. But I’ll be honest with you, I was so impressed four years ago I decided to go on an India wine hunt earlier. There’s a place called Nashik which is outside of Bombay that produces beautiful wines. Sula is one of them, I’ve known him for years and he does a fantastic job of having grapes I was Just in India and all that I drank was Sula because that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to support the wine country there. Was beautiful, now is it a perfect champagne? No, was it a perfect sparkling white? No, but it was really, really good and it was from my own country.

Wow that’s great, so is the industry growing pretty quickly there?

Hugely, every top hotel, every top restaurant is serving really, really good wines. And really promoting Indian wines because they are changing. They are waking up. A lot of India winemakers have actually spend more time at University of Davis, California. They’ve been to different parts of the world so their understanding of culture is the wine is supposed to be not just for the sophisticated but for everyday drinking. I noticed this a lot this time that so many great restaurants are serving so many great wines at proper temperatures and with proper stemware.

That’s important.

Well yeah, okay so you caught onto that early though. I mean your background speaks to why you’re so passionate about wine. But was there anything else prompting you to, especially in the Vancouver market, to open this restaurant? But to really have wine as almost as important as the food?

Before that I worked in a restaurant called Red Sea Grill which sold beautiful Pacific Northwest wines. At that time my manager was who is a great teacher and a mentor to me. What I did was I said when I open the restaurant up I said I’m going to only have five whites and five reds, that’s it. I wasn’t going to have a huge wine list and to be honest with you I didn’t really have the money to buy a huge wine list. I bought four whites or five whites. I would go to the liquor store every morning and buy four or five bottles of white, four or five bottles of reds and I would just keep them at the back. That’s how my love for wine started. After two or three years of having the restaurant I realized that if I really wanted to talk about wines seriously, even though I knew it, I needed to challenge the sommelier program in order to get there. I challenged it. I did fail the first time, I’ll be the first one to say it because of the essays. But I came back and I rewrote my exam and I got my degree. Having said that, the point was to pair food with wine not just Indian food was wine, because others could see that I was

Right, right fantastic. Kathy Nelson says good wine wins the day. Raoul Momo from Princeton, New Jersey, hello. He loves Riesling chilled with spicy food. Kathleen Marsh, grandma and grandpa are from Portland, Oregon are watching too. Kathleen Marsh okay, so we’ve got some family.

Got some family on there.

The cheerleaders here, that’s always fantastic. Folks, if I’m missing your comments they’re going by quickly. I can only see five at a time then Facebook disappears them until the full recording is done. So post again if I haven’t acknowledged or you have a question that I’ve missed. If you’re watching the replay you can still post questions, we welcome that. Please take a moment to share this video. We will be at the end of this session announcing last week’s winner that’s based on people who share the video and make a comment. We’re drawing for a personally signed book of Laura Werlin’s book on cheeses. We talked to Laura last week, wonderful guest. This week Vikram and Sean are offering one of Vikram’ cookbooks. It’s the original one, is it?

This is one of the books I just wrote about, the memoir. This is this original one that is called Elegant and Inspired.

Oh nice.

This is the first cookbook that Meeru wrote. It took us three years to write this cookbook.

Wow, fantastic, so can imagine having that cookbook folks. So get sharing and let your friends know because this is a really interesting conversation. Everybody’s going to learn a lot about pairing wine and spicy food. Lou Michel has got a glass of Saint Laurent Well Garden from Fafel, an Austrian wine, very nice. Okay absolutely, now Vikram with all your television experience, Dragons’ Den, Top Chef, Chopped did wine play much of a role in any of those shows with the food and wine? I guess maybe not Dragons’ Den, but was there any component of wine in those shows?

You know when you do Top Chef or when you do Chopped Canada, even though there is no wine served at the time, as a chef you always imagine what would this dish taste like or look like? Or you play games with yourself and say hey, how would I pair this dish with what kind of wine? It’s something that you do it automatically as a fun thing to do for yourself. I would take notes down and say oh I would pass this on. I would have this with a German Riesling, or I would have this with a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Just because you know you play this game with yourself. It’s something that keeps you excited.

Sure absolutely. Theandra says Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes, Steven Cipes rose for a rainy day in Vancouver, excellent. Carrie MacDonald is loving your choices. Now maybe before again I’m still, we’re getting to those pairings and Sam Hauck, you’ve got to tell me how to pronounce your last name Sam. He is in B.C. and he teaches wine classes. Welcome Vikram and Sean. Vikram has done so much for promoting B.C. wines and I’m always happy to attend events where he is speaking. Sam is based, he teaches at one of the culinary schools. Welcome Sam, but more storytelling first. Vikram, let’s go to the worst moment of your career so far. Not so far, shouldn’t be predicting doom like there’s going to be many more. No, what’s been the worst moment of your food career, or cooking career?

You have embarrassing moments. I don’t think there are worst moments, there are embarrassing moments. One of the most embarrassing moments to me was I had just opened the restaurant up and a friend of mine gave me a nice bottle of red wine to enjoy. It was a form of saying thank you very much for your friendship and good luck. I put the wine in the wine cellar or wine room and I forgot about it because I was so busy running around. I think probably a few months later he came into the restaurant and he says Vikram, just pick me a bottle of wine. Now I didn’t realize

I can see where this is going.

I took that bottle of wine and I went up to the table. Then I saw his face and I realized uh-oh, this is the wine that he gave me. I recovered back very quickly by saying you gave me this bottle of wine and I’m here to drink it with you.

Oh, nice recovery.

It totally happened and I felt so relieved, because I was going to say here’s a 19 so-and-so. I don’t even remember what. I think it was aor something like that. I was going to open it for him and charge him like 50 bucks for it. Then I realized he had given it to me and I went back very, very quickly. That was one of the most embarrassing moments.

That is a great story. Sean, do you have one?

I guess like Vikram said, you have embarrassing moments. I don’t think I’ve had any worst moments. But yeah, I’ve definitely, it’s always terrible when you spill something on someone, especially as a server or sommelier. I remember at Vij’s the beginning when everybody comes in we all seat everybody and we pass around water to everybody that sits down. We’re walking around with full trays of water glasses. The restaurant was real tight, there was not a lot of space between tables. I remember one night a woman came in and sat down and just as I was walking past she backed her chair up a little bit and bumped me and I tipped this whole tray of water glasses onto her. She jumped up like someone had just bitten her, so shocked. That’s how I started the evening. But I hope the evening got better from there.

Wow, and we need to heal these memories now. So back to you Vikram, your best moment so far? There will be many more, I’m sure.

One of my best moments was it was a Sunday afternoon like this and I was at the restaurant. I don’t do reservations at the restaurant. I really have stuck to that principle of no reservations. An older gentleman walked in with a little cane in his hand. Another younger gentleman on his arm walked him to the restaurant. The whole restaurant went pin-drop silence. They all turned around to see who this person was which everybody recognized. But if I was going to give up my principles of no reservations. It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau that just walked in with Justin Trudeau in the restaurant. Everybody saw. I went up to him and I said Mr. Trudeau there’s a 20 minute wait for a table. He said that’s okay. He went to the back, he waited, he got a table, he ate. Justin was there, Pierre Trudeau was there. And as they were leaving I went up to him and I touched his feet. When you touch somebody’s feet it’s form of respect, huge respect. I said Mr. Trudeau I just want to say it was your policies of 1960s that allowed immigrants like me to come into this great country called Canada and be successful at what we do. He picked me up and he kind of gave me a big hug and said I’ve had Indian food lots of places. This was absolutely delicious. And you have to understand this was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a quintessential prime minister of this country had just said to me that this was one of his most delicious Indian food memories.

What a great story.

I just buckled, I couldn’t believe it. I just went home and poured myself a large glass of wine and I just gulped it down. Let the effect of the wine go through my body.

Fantastic, oh lovely, Sean.

Wow, one of the best moments. Two years ago we did that party, the New Year’s party. Two years ago just as we were moving restaurants we moved from our Granville location to the Camby location but we still had the old restaurant and we were still using it. We figured well we’re not going to be open at Camby Street so we might as well throw a party. We threw a New Year’s party at the old Granville space. We invited some of our best guests and close friends and family to enjoy the food. We had a big, I think it was a nine-liter bottle of Moet Champagne that we were going to pour at midnight as a toast.

That’s a party.

It’s a big bottle to pour. It’s heavy so we had to decant the wine out of the bottle then pour it into flutes and pass it around the room. It’s getting close to midnight and not everybody has sparkling wine in their hands. We’re running around, we’ve poured all the sparkling wine and we’re passing it around to each person. Time’s ticking down and it’s five seconds, four seconds, three seconds ’til midnight and I put the last glass of champagne down on someone’s table. I had one glass of champagne left in my hand on my tray. I turned around and the clock struck midnight. Everybody raised their glass and I’m just standing there. I’m like oh, I get to drink champagne too.

Nice timing.

It was just so perfect. It was great to see everybody enjoying the atmosphere of the party and getting to spend that New Year’s Eve together, it was really special.

Sometimes life just works out and everything clicks and comes together. That’s fantastic. Jessica Luongo, wonderful story Vikram. Mark Lai loved the stories, I have goosebumps. Highest honor to touch someone’s feet. Very gracious, Vikram. Okay excellent, we should get into a little bit of these food and wine pairings. I’ve been teasing for so long here. Where would you like to start, gentlemen? Which pairing would you like to start with? Which wine and what would you?

Let’s talk about the Contratto.

Okay, so the sparkling.

We’ve got some traditional method sparkling wine. This was made by the Contratto family.

You want to hold it close to the camera? And we’ll post these later, but yes Contratto.

Contratto, this is their for England sparkling wine. It’s made from Pinot Noir and it’s a bone dry sparkling wine made in a traditional method. Offers fantastic value as opposed to champagne which is pricey because of the limited area and the prestige involved. I see you have your bottle of sparkling wine as well.

I’ll just hold this up in honor of you folks. It’s a B.C. Blue Mountain Brut, I love it. It’s only 30 bucks and it’s classic method traditional as well.


You talk about Blue Mountain, I just have to tell a quick story about Blue Mountain. I love Blue Mountain and Jane and Ian for years. When I first opened the restaurant up Jane was very, very picky about where she wanted her wines to be. She said okay just go out and buy. I wanted to have a Pinot Gris and a Pinot Blanc. I remember to this day I called her up and said I used to work at Red Sea Grill. Now I’ve opened up my own restaurant. Can I put your wine on the wine list? Now most wineries would be so happy that you’re going to buy their wine and put it on the wine list. Guess what she did? She asked me to write a little essay why I want my food to be paired with her wine. I had to write a little one-page letter to her to say that this is what I need to do. Then she allocated me some wine. I have the highest respect for Jane and Ian at Blue Mountain, and obviously now the kids have taken over running of the wine business. They’ve done a fantastic job.

I know, I love their wines. The whole line from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay to the sparkling they’re just top notch, really superb. Sean what do you think we should be pairing with these sparkling wines?

When you’re talking about sparkling wine there’s a lot, there’s a couple of things that really make it stand out. The bubbles, bubbles are the most important part. With our food especially and with a lot of spicier dishes the cleansing effect of bubbles is basically what you’re getting when you drink a beer. That refreshment, that cleansing of the palate, that ability to go back for another bite, and another sip again and again, it’s really important because otherwise you get weighed down. You have all of this spice and fat and heaviness and you don’t want that. You want things to remain light and fresh. Sparkling wine can work as a great pair for anything that’s been pan fried or deep fried. Anything that’s heavy in fat, Indian food’s not low calorie as we know. Any of our dishes that are done with cream sauces or anything like that sparkling wine has great acidity to cut through that fat. Those are all really important factors in how to pair these wines with our food. It works as a great pair for a lot of the dishes on the menu.

I personally like the vegetative characteristics of any Old World style of bubble because I think when you get those tones of peppers and ripe, ripe, ripe vegetables that what comes from a delicious bubble. I just think it works really well with the rich tomato, green creamy style gravies, eggplant.

Do you think spice and heat somehow change the taste, or how we perceive sparkling wine at all?

I don’t think it changes it. I just think the idea should be is that you take a sip of your wine and it’s tasty, and you take a bite of your food and that’s delicious. That’s the pairing it should be. Not one should not overpower. The food should not overpower the wine, and the wine should not overpower the food either. It’s just a classic match. Just go and have fun with it and it’s what you feel like, you enjoy it.

Absolutely, and I find sparkling wine is probably the most food-friendly wine on the planet. Anything that challenges wine, an egg-based dish, quiche, artichoke, asparagus, all of these really challenging foods sparkling wine they meet their match. As you said Sean it’s the acidity, it’s the bubbles, and it’s that cleansing power like an ocean.

It’s great especially when you get into really textured things like mushroom and eggplant.

Talking of mushrooms we just did this book called Krug as a book and one ingredient and we chose mushrooms this year. I had done my homework and realized that Leonard Cohen who is a quintessential Canadian poet loved to drink a bottle of champagne before he read on the stage. I actually made a mushroom pizza where I show he’s eaten it a little bit. He has a bottle of champagne and his pen is sitting right there. I wrote a poem for him. It’s a beautiful photograph. I think Krug’s My point is anything that’s Old World with earthy tones goes really well.

Wow, no wonder Cohen was so fluid, should we say, on stage. The lyrics just flowed. I think that bottle of Krug was probably helping him, or champagne I should say. Excellent, Lori Kilmartin, I’m having a glass of sparkling wine right now pre-dinner aperitif. Casa-Dea’s Cuvee from Casa-Dea in Prince Edward County, Ontario.


And J.P. d’Entremont, enzymes in dairy reacts with hot spices and counters or neutralizes. Do certain wines have similar enzymes? That’s a technical question.

Yeah, you’re getting technical on me. I don’t know the actual chemical breakdowns. I know that there’s a big difference between the spice that you get in say like Thai food versus Indian spices because of the fat, because of the cream it does tend to lower the intensity that gives you this slower burn, this deep kind of warming spice versus the intense hot spice that you get from Thai or Mexican food. Those could be more challenging. Those kinds of cuisines definitely have their hard edges that are a little bit harder to work with. But as we get into talking about other pairings you’ll see some things that you can do to kind of work through those.

Absolutely, that’s fantastic. Carrie MacDonald, Trius is an amazing sparkler for 30 bucks in Ontario. J.P. again, wine and food is not only about the taste and aroma, but the experiences and you both shared great experiences. I agree, J.P.

Thanks, J.P.

Are there any wines that really are a disaster with spicy or hotter dishes?

A disaster?

My theory has been, I mean I don’t think there are many sommeliers in the world, or many people in this world who can after having, taking a bite of a chicken curry or a lamb curry can say oh my God, I’m having a 1965 Silver Oak Cab. I mean it’s a little tougher, your palate has to be really sophisticated. I think the disaster would be if you’re buying really old wine at that old, old value and expecting that to pair beautifully with Indian food. Because classically Indian food is not paired with wine. The New World works really, really well. But having said that doesn’t mean that the great or great Merlots or any other place, Italianthey do. I just think the vintage becomes slightly less relevant especially if you’re panicked, enjoy it.

I agree, I agree. I wouldn’t necessarily work with anything that is too subtle, that’s too elegant. Indian food is robust, it’s loud, it’s energetic, it’s out there. So wines that have those characteristics are also a good match. Anything that’s going to be too subtle, too lean and crisp. You don’t want anything that’s going to hide. You want something that’s going to show itself and be a little bit more exuberant.

Right, good advice. Is there anything more you want to say about the sparkling wine and spicy food pairing?

The only thing I would say is that I was in South Africa last year. Obviously South Africa produces some beautiful sparkling whites from I was at the winery, I’m staying there. Had a fabulous time, we had some wine. We were all sitting around, all of us left the room and went back to bed. I was supposed to brush my teeth and I felt that it would be so wrong because there was this much sparkling left in the bottle. I was like this is just such a sin to waste this beautiful, so I actually put a little bit of bubble on my toothbrush and I brushed my teeth with champagne because I didn’t want it to go to waste.

I think there’s a new branding opportunity there. I mean we’ve got Sensodyne, but this is a whole lot more interesting as toothpaste or some product. That’s right.

But I didn’t use the toothpaste, I just used —

Yeah, the champagne.

I thought why should I let it go to waste? I used it an I gargled my mouth with it and it was delicious.

What a fun idea, I’ve got to try that, excellent. All right, Alan Cameron, best pairing is Vij and Sean. Very nice one, Alan.

Thank you, humbled.

Okay, Dave Head, first word problems pairing spicy food and wine. Okay yes, I know Dave.

I wish more people would drink sparkling wine throughout the meal rather than just start off with it. Because it does work so well with so many different foods.

It does, and everybody just thinks it’s for toasting or at the beginning, or just an aperitif. But you can drink this and the beauty of it is it’s got lots of flavor and zest, but it’s also low alcohol so it’s a nice way of pacing throughout a holiday meal or any meal really and you don’t want to be asleep on the sofa at seven. It’s quite nice that way. 12% is usually where the alcohol clocks in at too, for most sparklers. All right let us move on. Let me just take a moment to say if you’ve just joined us here you’re here in the Sunday Supper Club where we gather every Sunday at six p.m. Eastern, Toronto-New York time, to talk to the most intriguing people in the wine and food world like Vikram Vij and Sean Nelson from Vij’s Restaurant in Vancouver who are sharing their tips on pairing spicy wine and food. Please post your comments below. If you’ve got questions let us know and also take a moment to share this video. If you’re enjoying this conversation please do share it and make a comment with your share. That let’s other people know about this conversation which always helps. There’s something in it for you as well. We will be at the end of this video drawing for a personally signed copy of Laura Werlin’s book on cheeses. She was our guest last week and if you share now this one, you’ll be eligible to win one of Vikram Vij’s cookbooks personally signed as well. That’s quite a treat. All right, gentlemen what do we have next for pairing? Which wine and which direction are we going?

All right now we’re getting into fun stuff. This is one of Vikram and my favorite wines, favorite styles of wine, and favorite grapes.

Riesling, yay Riesling.

Riesling is such a versatile grape and you’ve got yours as well, so that’s fantastic.

I do, I’ve got the Kung Fu Girl from Washington state, off dry Riesling.

We are doing that St. Urbans-Hof Nik Weis selection, Urbanby Mosel in Germany. Riesling can be made in so many different styles. You can have bone dry, crisp Riesling. There’s Riesling sparkling wine. If you go to Germany you can get sets. Then you can have sweeter styles of Riesling moving into off dry, medium dry, and even dessert wines. Because it’s so versatile it plays that way with food as well. Bone dry Rieslings can work really well in place of stuff like sparkling wine where you need to cut through that fattiness, that richness of fried foods, or cream, or anything heavy. If you’ve got a wine that’s got a little bit of sweetness like this one does you can play it off of things that have some chili, have some extra spice, have a little bit of heat that needs taming. The best thing about this wine is that it’s not just about the sugar, it’s also about the acidity. It’s about how it balances itself. It walks this tightrope of sweetness and acidity that keeps it very, very fresh and very balanced. A lot of people talk about Gewürztraminer as a pairing for spicy food. While Gewürztraminer has one side of that tightrope, it has the sweetness, it has the aromatics, it doesn’t always have enough acidity to play off of that sweetness. I generally find Rieslings to be a better pair for more spicy dishes, more complexity and freshness than the Gewürztraminer or other aromatic whites with sweetness.

That’s an excellent point, Sean, because I think Gewürzt’s, if I’m not mistaken translates to spice. So we always think spice wine and it’s the default over and over again. But you’re right, there’s an edginess, a raciness to Riesling that isn’t always there with Gewürztraminer. I would think it makes —

It’s hard to say that Gewürztraminer can’t pair with spicy food. I have some Gewürztraminer at the restaurant and there are some that are just outstanding but it has to be handled carefully, it has to be managed and made to work with food.

Having studied in Austria and Germany and worked there, obviously your bias would go to the Gewürztraminer and the Rieslings because your first taste of wines is coming from there. I mean when you taste them you’re like now I understand. Other Rieslings from Austria or are from Germany. When you look at these wines I think what I love about these wines again is that you can drink a full bottle of it and feel totally fine because it doesn’t hide in your palate. You don’t feel that mouth feel as if oh my God, my palate is tired. That sometimes can be a little overpowering and overbearing because when the palate gets tired you become lethargic. This way this wine will keep you fresh and wanting more and not feel like I’m feeling overwhelmed by my palate.

Exactly, and you know I was just reading with a tannic wine, a tannic cabernet which I would think would be one of the less good wines to pair with Indian cuisine. Every sip dries your mouth out further because the tannins are taking the proteins out of your saliva and agglomerating or coming together so your first sip is dry. You second sip is more drying and it keeps going and going. Whereas this is just mouthwatering and mouthwatering and juicy and giving like to your point, Vikram.

So true.

What do we put with this, gentlemen, this Riesling?

We have a fantastic dish on the menu that’s been there, I think it’s one of the originals. It’s the jackfruit. This is a tomato curry made with black cardamon and cumin so you get this deep rich, smoky, tomato curry. There’s a roasted jackfruit heart which for anybody that hasn’t had young jackfruit, the texture is kind of like an artichoke heart. A slightly fibrous vegetable. Works really well to take on all the flavor of that sauce. Then we top it with a little bit of pickled ginger and chilis. It has some heat, it has some spice, a little bit of that snap. Riesling works great to both tame the chili to pair with the elements, that smoke and spice from the ginger, and to keep it refreshed.

Wow, yeah go ahead.

Jackfruit is a typical Southeast Asian kind of a fruit. The texture is not like, it almost tastes like meat. If you’re a vegetarian and don’t want to eat meat you would eat a jackfruit because it has the texture. That mouth feel of the beautiful acidity that comes from the ginger and the smokiness that comes from the black cardamom just pairs really well with the Riesling.

The wine and the food descriptions make my mouth water. You’re doing your job. Oh, Ian Brau says hi buddy, he knows one of you, or maybe both, from Britain it looks like. Beverly Asleson says so your recommendation is white wines for spicy foods. Well we’re going to get to a red Beverly. Hold that thought. Dhirendra knows Ian so they’re talking amongst themselves now. Lori Kilmartin, do you ever have more white than red? Lots of sparkling, oh on your list. Would you say the balance of your list is more whites and sparklings than reds?

No actually, I think it’s pretty equal. We do have a large selection of reds as well. It’s pretty tame. We have about 120 selections on our wine list right now. About half and half are white and red. Then we’ve got about 20 sparkling wines, 15 sparkling wines, and then a couple of roses as well, five or 10 roses.


When you make a wine list up you don’t just say I’m going to only have white or only have red because everybody’s palate is different. The beautiful part of our life is that this is a democracy of palates.

Nice way to put it.

-How well you want it. Somebody might just say I want a white I want a New World Syrah from Paso Robles, for example. People want that and you should totally, totally meet that. Who are you to judge and say no, this doesn’t work with that. So you pair wines or you put wines on the list that pleases everybody.

Sure, absolutely great. How many wines by the glass, Sean? Sam Hauck is asking.

Right now wines by the glass I think we have seven whites by the glass and then eight reds, and then four sparkling.

Wow, that’s really impressive.

Five sparkling, my mistake. We have five sparkling so we’re really trying to push that. We do everything from Prosecco for 12.50 a glass to the Conchatto which we have for 17. We have a Reserve Blue Mountain Brut that we do by the glass as well as Moet champagne and Krug as well we pour by the glass basically at cost. We would really like people to experience what Krug is and how it is the king of champagnes and is a leader in the champagne world, and it’s great with our food. It’s not cheap but to go out and by a bottle is almost $300. Or you could have a glass at the restaurant for $50.

Yeah, it’s an amazing wine. These comments are going by too quickly for me to read them. But I’m just going to acknowledge a little bit here ’cause they’re getting going. Rick says in my glass tonight I’m enjoying a Grüner Veltliner from Arcane Cellars in Oregon.


Carrie MacDonald who does work in a liquor store, she says it’s all about your personal palate. Theandra says great Rieslings,, Bortelinos, reds with a touch of funk. All Old World pairings, wow you really know your wines. Lee says any Canadian sparklings on the menu? Well they did mention Blue Mountian, Lee. Don’t know if you have any others, or if you’re able to get Ontario?

Canadian sparklings right now, no we don’t have anything from Ontario. We’ve had the Benjamin Bridge wine.

Oh yes, from Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia as well in the past. The selection of Ontario wines in British Columbia is a little bit limited. There’s some intraprovincial trade boundaries there. But there is some great B.C.s, sparklings available as well.

At my third restaurant I have Blue Mountain right in the glass available there. I do it for, as well. Again the idea is that there are great, great, B.C. wines available, Canadian wines available to us in this country.

Absolutely, that’s fantastic. All right so we have dealt with the Riesling. Now let’s move onto a red. Someone was asking, or a number of people were asking about reds so which reds are we?

What we’ve got that we’re doing is a New World Syrah. This is I’ll see if I can get some light that doesn’t —

Vieux Pin.

Vieux Pin, this is the Cuvee Violette Syrah. This is an aromatic, spicy, floral, fruit forward New World Syrah. Syrah does wonderful things with spicy food. It carries some of those spice characters. If something has some of that peppery-ness, that little bit of earth character like the cardamom, the black cardamom, the cumin. Then when you throw it up against something that’s got a little more weight, structure, and spice it not only elevates both the wine and the food, it also serves to refresh the Syrah and Siraz as we know and to be a little bit higher in acidity and freshness. Doing something like this has a touch of that smokiness, that peppery, the floral notes. It is just awesome.

Absolutely, and I find the texture of Syrah so lovely. It’s like velvet, liquid velvet. It just fills your mouth and there’s not a lot of the harsh tannins, nothing grippy. Everything’s slippery, slide-y, it goes down quick.

It’s not to say that wines that have tannin don’t pair with spicy food. We have everything from New World Pinot Noir all the up to Berullo on the list. We have a wide range of styles to suit every person. People will often come into the restaurant and they’ll say well what wine pairs with Indian food? That’s like saying what wine pairs with European food? There’s so much variety, there’s so many different styles. Even in our limited menu you can go from deep rich, smoky, tomato curries all the way up to rich, heavy cream. So picking one wine to pair with everything is almost impossible. If you find a wine that you enjoy and then you have food with it that’s what makes it a great pairing as well. It’s about what you want and what you will enjoy, what you want to share with your friends and family.

Absolutely, now going back to, you say you have some tannic wines and they will work with Indian or spicy foods. How does that work because I always thought avoid tannic wines altogether.

The effect of tannins on your mouth, what you’re talking about where they gob onto proteins. Food is full of proteins so throwing this tannic nebbiolo at something like the braised short rib would be awesome because you have this rich fatty short rib loin that’s been slow braised that’s served in this tomato curry with the grilled kale and you have a sip of this rich, spicy, earthy, tannic nebbiolo. It just halts those fatty compounds, it softens everything. The ends kind of melt away into the meats. The meat melts away into your mouth and then you taste both. Then you can go back for another sip because you’ve been refreshed. Again, this line between all of the wines, that’s acidity. Acidity is the key to pairing wine with food. The Italians figured this out a long, long time ago. All of their wines are acid bombs. That is why their wine is so good with food because that’s what they focus on. Wine is food.

Yes, that’s true and now how about the other challenger, wines with high alcohol? You’ve got the heat of spice, or not always heat but when you do have heat and spice, alcohol, isn’t that a clash?

Sometimes. It depends on how the wine carries the alcohol.

It just dries your palate out faster. I mean, is it something wrong? No, if you find your palate being tired of having a heavy, heavy-duty Syrah or a, and you want to have it then your palate will get tired. But who’s stopping you from enjoying it? I think that one wants that kind of wine then that’s the style behind it. If you’re having Petit Syrah from Paso Robles, any of those regions that are super hot you’re going to find the wines at 14.5, almost 15% high in alcohol. You usually can only have one glass of it, because after that your palate is going to get tired. But nobody’s to say that they don’t pair, they pair very well. I think it was last year we were invited to cook for the royals and when we got the call to say you’re going to be one of the chefs that’s going to be invited to cook for the royals you have to understand as an Indian when you’ve been ruled for 200 years you develop a little chip on your shoulder. So you’re going to say something like really, something that’s going to like, say something that every paparazzi was there. I want to say some thing subtle like thanks for leaving India, or something like this. In my mind I’m like I want to say something really, had you not left India I would have never ended up in this great country called Canada. All these things are going through my mind. Obviously you had Kate and William, they come towards my table and she’s so nice and friendly that I just literally melted like butter. Oh she was so nice and friendly. She had a glass of wine, they had wine and I made some lamb Popsicles for them and then they absolutely enjoyed it.

That hit the media, your lamb Popsicles because she loved them so much?

She loved them so much and part of it was that I had done some homework and found out that on their wedding night lamb was the main course that was served to the guests that day. So I said that to both of them and they were very friendly and very nice. Now the difference is she’s a commoner so she’s had Indian food before. I don’t think he’s had much of Indian food before. So as soon as I gave him the lamb Popsicle and he ate it, his face just went like red because of the spices in there. He just went like whoa, this is delicious. Then he took a little sip of the wine and then just enjoyed it. My first reaction was, I got you. But it was beautiful but it was also the moment we were there. It was nice, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. Surroundings mean so much. If you’re drinking a nice glass of red wine, there’s a fireplace going on, and it’s cozy and comfortable and you’re having comfort Indian foods then that’s the feeling you’re going to get.

Absolutely. Heather Proctor has joined us as well. So we are already at the 10 to the, even shorter than that, 10 to the hour and yes it has flown by like this. You guys are amazing, it is incredible. I want to ask you a few more questions before we wrap this us. To each of you starting with you, Sean. If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone, living or dead, who would that be and why?

Ooh, living or, you know I think if I was going to share a bottle of wine with anybody it would be my great grandfather. He passed away when I was about 14, 15. I never got to be an adult with him. He was such an inspiration. He was born in Cornwall, he came over to Canada as a young boy and he established himself here. He started a number of companies in British Columbia. He worked through a very challenging period in the growth of this country. I would love to hear some of his stories as an adult and to be able to share a moment with him back and forth, have some wine. Tell him about what I’m doing and how passionate I am about the things that I love. That would be really awesome.

That’s lovely. Vikram?

I think I would not want to share a glass of wine with him because that man doesn’t drink. So what I would do is I would give him a cup of chai, and his name is Gandhi. I would love to meet Gandhi one day. I would hold a glass of wine because I know he would not judge me for holding a glass of wine. But I would make him a cup of chai and give it to him. I would love to listen to him and say what motivated you to free India? To go through so much hardship in a loincloth and why was money not motivate you? And how he single-handedly changed a course of a nation and the legacy that he has left behind. If I could be part of that thought process I would love to sit down with him and have some chai and some wine with him.

Wow, I’ll drink to that, I’ll drink to both your memories, cheers. Go ahead and now as we wrap up, is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention as we come to a close here?

I think one of the things I really want to mention is that butter chicken is not-haute Indian cuisine. It is just one dish. It’s like saying croque monsieur or French onion soup is French cooking, or steak fritz is French cooking. There’s so much more to Indian food. Travel to India, go to Southeast Asia and see what a great country and the spices and the congregations and combinations. I was just in Vietnam three years ago and honestly, the young chefs over there are creating great burgundies even though they’re slightly cooked. Because by the time you have the beautiful young yellow, golden straw color which you know it’s because of the heat. It’s just aged a little bit faster. But they’re pairing different bugs. They’re pairing it with tarantulas, or they’re pairing it with beautiful things that they eat. It’s incredible to taste. I had a cockroach the other night. Had an edge of beef like cockroach with beautiful flavors and I was like wow. So go and travel to these third-world countries, or countries that are developing basically. Not third-world anymore, and experience their side of food and wine pairings. You’ll be impressed to come back and say wow, a total different way of thinking.

Yeah, I’ve got to try that, tarantula with mature burgundy. That’s an interesting match. All right, Sean anything else you want to mention?

I just think that people should just take into consideration the experimentation. That’s been some of the most fun in the time that I’ve spent at Vij’s is getting to try things, getting to throw something new out there. Unexpected pairings are always the most fun. When you get a dish and you’re like I want to try something like this. I had a sherry ambassador come into the restaurant. She had brought a bunch of sherry. That’s not something that you’re thinking about. One in particular was a PX sherry. It was a sweet sherry made from Pedro Ximinez. It had very rich deep dark flavors and a lot of sweetness. I said let me try something and I brought them a little plate of our venison which is done with a date tamarind chutney and grilled vegetables. It has this smokiness. You would never think to pair a sweet sherry with a meaty venison loin. But the fact that it had this sauce, the tamarind and the dates, the sweetness balanced it and it made for a fantastic pairing. Just go out on a limb, try something new. If you think it might work then try it and see what happens and then go and tell your friends. Come into the restaurant and tell me about a thing that you had that you really loved and I’ll see if I can do something fun for you as well.

Fantastic yes, and we should all go to Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver. What’s the website? Is it

Dot ca, good. is the restaurant website.

Check that out, so whenever you’re in Vancouver or for those of you who are tuning in from Vancouver, go. I’m going to go. I’ve got to make the mecca, the journey. This was such a great conversation. The comments and the love is pouring in here for you guys. Such a great educational but also very entertaining. The stories were amazing. I thank you both, Vikram, Sean, thank you so much for joining us tonight. We’ll bid adieu and good night to you now. I’m going to stay online folks, but all the best for you both for everything that you’re working on.

Great, thank you so much.

And I must say to all the young chefs, be the mentors to young people. Let them experience great food and great wine. We in Canada are a culinary destination. We have what it takes. Let’s make sure that the world knows that we are a culinary destination.

All right, all right rallying cry at the end there. Cheers to you both. Take care, bye-bye. All right folks I’m going to stay on here a little longer with you all. Oh, Lela I’m glad you enjoyed it. Kathy Nelson. Excellent, one of your best shows ever. Thank you Sam, the guests make the show, I got to say really. The content and the stories, that’s all them. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Folks I am going to do that draw so don’t leave yet to find out who won from last week for a personally signed copy of Laura Werlin’s book about cheeses. That is coming up. If you have any suggestions for future guests right now I’ve got booked to the end of well mid-December. I’ll be taking a week or two off for Christmas. But I’m lining up the new year and the earlier I contact people the better the guests I get. I love to do this way in advance now. Please post if you’ve got people you’d like to suggest. Let me know, tonight what was the most interesting thing you learned during our conversation? What little tidbit did you pick up and did you enjoy and found that really you’re surprised or anything. Please post anything, please post. Finally if you would share this video, let everyone know about this because I think it was fun, it’s educational and next week you could be winning a personally signed copy of Vij’s, Vikram Vij’s cookbook, beautiful cookbook I must say. He’ll be sending that directly to you. All right now let me okay they’re gone, we’re here. Drum roll, please. Okay, so the winner from last week, Laura Werlin’s book on cheeses is, you ready? Lou Michel, Lou Michel and I think Lou is here tonight. Yes, you just posted with a lot of emojis. Lou, you are already happy now you must be happier. E-mail me if I don’t have your email address Lou, and I’ll connect you with Laura ’cause she’s going to send you that book directly. I’m Natalie at for my email address. Alrighty folks well as always that was super fun. I will see you next week. Next week’s guest I should tell you is Mike Vissa. He’s called the wine economist but please don’t let that scare you. He is not dry, it is not all about numbers. He has some fascinating insights on wine. Not just the pricing of wine and the market trends, but he’s also just published a book called Around the World in 80 Wines where he travels and he follows a journey. Great writer, really great writer. Lots of stuff coming up with him next week. Please come back here six p.m. Eastern TorontoNew York Time every Sunday, Sunday Supper Club. If you’re watching the replay you can still post comments below. We will jump in and answer them. You can still share and qualify to win because we don’t do that draw ’til next week for the cookbook, Vij’s cookbook. Good night, Lou is happy. Good night to you all, thank you so much. I really appreciate you folks being here. It is the highlight of my week and we have such a merry band who comes into this virtual wine bar every Sunday night where we gather. It’s so much fun and I look forward to seeing you again next Sunday guys. Take care.



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