Thanks for the suggestions.
Dinner started with a butternut squash soup topped with a sour cream and cider sauce. When I served, we were finishing a prosecco that our guests brought. The sweetness of the soup masked the slight sweetness of the prosecco, making it taste quite fresh, without the cloying aftertaste I associate with the prosecco's I've had. Sadly, my wife tossed the bottle before I had a chance to note its maker.
Since I had the Zind Humbrecht reisling for the main course, I opened it for the salad: cucumbers, red onion and cilantro with a vinagrette dressing. The fruit in the reisling popped nicely against the acidity of the dressing.
As to the vindaloo--well, with all my worries as expressed above--it became more vindaloo-ish than spicy. I did a dry rub on the short ribs with cumin, coriander, dry mustard, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a white pepper-based five spice powder from the local Asian market. Plenty of flavor, not much heat. I braised them the day before, let them set in the pan with the juices overnight. They were served with brown rice and roasted asparagus.
I decanted the Syrah for an hour. It was outstanding. Dark fruit, spices with a burnt butter middle. As suggested above, it was excellent with the "vindaloo-ish" beef. My wife stuck with the reisling, so I was able to compare. The reisling had no difficulty standing up to the spices. The balance of this well-made wine shown through. Its fruit had popped with the salad dressing, but its acidity more than held its own with the beef.
With the roquefort cheese plate, we opened a Chateau les Roques Loupiac. The sauterne was golden colored with vanilla-cream and peach on the nose and palatte. Its complex finish was intoxicating with the blue cheese.
I did a tarte tatin for dessert, paired with strong black coffee, to send our guests off with clear (enough) heads.
Thank you so much for the pairing ideas. The syrah and reisling were both great with the short ribs.
if I were all the man that he is cat...