Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some Indian Wines I Like

After a recent wine tasting session in South Africa, my husband returned with a bottle of some delicious bubbly stuff and asked us all to try and figure out its fruity flavours. This was the first time I gave some thought to wine tasting and how one needs to use all parts of the mouth (and of course, the nose) to appreciate the flavour and bouquet. I was the only one who managed (quite by chance) to identify peach and citrus - a rather nice concoction.

This was also the first time I began to wonder how these flavours developed. I had always assumed that wine makers would dunk in some fruit (like we do in our primitive home made brews). How naive! It was intriguing to read about how the combination of the grape and the fermenting and maturing methods used could create complex and varied flavours. A remarkable art and incredible chemistry.

India is still new to wines and wine making but things are rapidly changing each year. Wine consumption has considerably increased in the cities despite the high costs (due to state taxes). I still prefer a small glass of wine on its own, with something light on the side and rarely pair food with wine (preferring regular water as all Indians normally drink with meals, especially in the heat). But there are always exceptions. These are some of my experiences with sampling Indian wines:

Of late, I think Bangalore's own local Grover (a vineyard established on the outskirts of the city) has improved tremendously and their La Reserve (made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes) is very nice (I don't mention years and such because I just don't keep track and these wines, new as they are, seem to be better made as years go by). Most Indian wines seem to benefit from airing and slight chilling; they taste better after being opened, left for a day in the refrigerator and then kept at room temperature for a short while before they are drunk.


Sula, a vineyard started in Nasik (by the Stanford engineering management graduate Rajeev Samant) has been making some new and interesting things. One of its most appealing and distinctive wines is a slightly sweet white, the Chenin Blanc, which comes in an elegant long necked bottle and is very nice for the summer and also with seafood. The slightly drier Sauvignon Blanc is also nice.


A recent and exciting introduction to Bangalore has been Reveilo. We discovered it in an annual food exhibition and wait every year to buy our stock (it is only available in a few stores in the city). We were drawn to it by the charismatic owner who had set up a wine tasting stall near the entrance, the only stall of its kind. And he was happy to pour out a range of wines for us, including the high end selection. Some of the premium wines are indeed very nice with slightly smoky flavours induced after aging. Of the whites, we like the light texture of Grillo and the stronger flavours of Chardonnay Reserve. Our Reveillo reds are long (drunk and) over for this year, one of the memorable wines was the Syrah Reserve (made from Syrah grapes and aged in oak barrels).

A friend recently gifted us some wine made by Big Banyan (a relatively new Bangalore winery), but I haven't tasted it yet. The Indian wine industry (aided by European, American and other master wine makers) is now bubbling over with activity, which is rather nice for us.
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