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Drink Like The Gods

Friday, November 22, 2013

Often touted as the drink of the gods, wine is a welcome visitor at gourmet dinners, fancy brunches, romantic evenings and cheery meetings with friends and is definitely a staple for the festive season. Rhea Dhanbhoora & Dev Goswami get you in the mood for this with some products, picks, tips and wine festivals to visit

Some tipplers like the acetic hit of a robust flavour, while others prefer a fruity bouquet with a mellow tint. But, both types of drinkers have one thing in common — they love wine. It may be a beverage intertwined with the history of the Western world, with the Greeks even having a God dedicated to wine (Bacchus), but us Indians have cultivated a fine palate for the fermented grape drink and have even begun to produce a few fine varieties! Artists, writers, politicians, businessmen… everyone loves a good glass of wine. In fact, Martin Luther loved it so much, he said, “Beer is made by men, wine by God!” and we’re inclined to agree with him.

Nikhil Agarwal, sommelier and director at All Things Nice, adds, “The world of wine is large and it would be difficult to put it all down in an article. I could mention 100 grape varieties, but in my world the only way you can learn about wine is to drink it. Only by constant interaction with wine are you able to create a memory bank of aromas and flavours associated with various grape varieties and regions.” We totally agree! But, before you head out on your wine sojourn, let’s take a look at what types of wine you can indulge in, which wine festivals to visit, whether you’re an oenophile or a casual wine drinker, along with a few fun facts and what Nikhil thinks are the best wines across the world:

Fun facts

  • Grapes ferment by themselves, if you leave them (warm) in a jar long enough. The reason wines are made in a vineyard is because the wine resulting from this process is obviously not a good one.
  • People first started realising the health benefits of wine when it saved people from diseases caused by bad water. The natural fermentation kills bacteria.
  • Why do good wines still have corks? It’s the best way to know about the quality of a wine. A cork that is moldy, fragmented or falling apart means the wine probably isn’t that good either.
  • If you’re wondering why two glasses of wine show so much faster on a woman than a man — it has nothing to do with capacity. Women have less of an enzyme that is used to metabolise wine, which makes them more easily affected by it.
  • All wines don’t improve with age! More than 90% of wines actually taste best within a year of being bottled. The rest are collectibles that are specifically made to age well.
  • If you want to know how old a wine is, here’s a simple test. White wines get darker as they age while reds get lighter.

The Types Of Wine
Understanding the types of wine is an inexhaustible topic. Nikhil explains, “There are numerous grape varieties, each with its own unique quality. The same variety will have the basic characteristics, but will be different based on the region it is grown in.” He lists some popular varieties (along with the top countries that produce them) to get us started on our journey to understand and enjoy wine:

Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp with lots of acidity, dry (no sweetness) notes of green capsicum, grassy, light bodied and green fruit characteristics.
Top Countries: France, New Zealand, Chile

Chenin Blanc: These wines have good acidity and lots of tropical fruit. These are mostly light bodied.
Top Countries: France, South Africa

Riesling: These are dry, off dry, ice wines and dessert wines; light bodied, with good acidity and aromas of green apple and lemon. Residual sugar balances tartness.
Top Countries: Germany, New Zealand, France, Australia

Chardonnay: Depending on the climate and region, these are light bodied or full bodied, with green apple, tropical fruits and acidity from high to low.
Top Countries: France, USA, Australia

Shiraz: These are medium to full bodied dry wines. They exhibit notes of pepper, black fruit and leather.
Top Countries: France, Australia

Cabernet Sauvignon: These are medium to full-bodied, with green capsicum and dark fruit.
Top Countries: France, USA, Chile, Australia

Pinot Noir: Light coloured, these wines display red fruit such as raspberry and cherry and are lighter bodied.
Top Countries: France, New Zealand, USA

Merlot: Depending on the region, they can be full-bodied, fruit driven or lighter, with more red fruit. They are good for novice drinkers.
Top Countries: France, Chile, USA

Get A Personal Shopper
Clothes aren’t the only things that have personal shoppers! You can get the perfect wine for your wine cellar by contacting Living Liquidz. The service delivers wine to you in 10 days and if your favourite vintage wine is out of stock , they’ll source that for you too! They also have a loyalty card through which you can get discounts and points on different wines after every purchase.
Contact www.livingliquidz.com or dial 30004000

Pick up a bottle
Peekay Wines: This is one of the oldest wine shops in the city, so it’s no surprise people still throng to it. They’re located at Crawford Market.

Nature’s Basket: Head over to any of the outlets in the city for a selection of great wines.

The Wine Kart: There’s nothing better than selecting fine wines from the comfort of your home. For a list of wines from across the world, accessories, hampers and their recommendations, visit www.thewinekart.com.

Living Liquidz: We couldn’t miss out on this one! One of the largest chains in the city, this shop focuses on keeping several different wines from all over the world. Find a shop closest to you by logging on to www.livingliquidz.com.

Festivals & Events
Sulafest 2014: Who doesn’t love wine and music? It’s the perfect pairing and we think that you should block your dates as soon as possible for the latest edition of Sulafest. They were kind enough to give us a sneak peak into their music lineup for the upcoming fest, which will include Dub Pistols, The Dualers, Shpongle, Susheela Raman and many more.
When February 1 & 2, 2014
Contact www.sulafest.net

Fratelli: While you can’t exactly call it a festival, Fratelli organises several visits to corporate sectors. So, the next time your company is looking to go somewhere, contact them. They give you facilities to train employees as well as have fun sessions and wine tasting at their vineyards in Akluj in Maharashtra.
When Ongoing
Contact www.fratelliwines.in

York Wine Festival: York Wine Festival is the perfect mix of music and wine, held in Nashik every year. There are performances, gourmet food on offer to eat as well as buy, grape stomping and wine tasting sessions.
When To be announced
Contact 253 2230700

Wine basics
Nikhil gives us a few wine basics that will help make your wine experience better:

  • White wine can be had at about 11-12°C and red wine between 16-18°C. Serving wine at an incorrect temperature can kill the experience.
  • An extremely important part of wine drinking is the quality of the glass. Improper glassware or badly washed glasses can ruin the nicest wine. In fact, there are companies that produce glasses as per the grape variety! But, for a beginner, you don’t need to take it to that level; you will get to that stage naturally.
  • More expensive isn’t always better. Remember that your preference in wine depends on your taste. The more you experiment with different styles of wine, you will realise what you like and what you dislike independently. Don’t blindly follow price as the only factor when judging the quality of a wine.

Food Pairing
Pairing wine and food has become quite popular. Nikhil says, “I believe that when wine and food are matched, it is a recipe for pure gastronomic happiness. However, the notion of wine and food pairing is being taken a little too seriously. The rule you should follow is that you make your own rules.”

Sommelier at Hakkasan, Chinmay Barve has another tip, “Wines are paired in two ways, wine and food which complement each other or wine and food which is contrasting to each other. Example — spicy food can be paired with light refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a ripe full bodied Chilean Merlot”

Globe trotting wine
Drinking and enjoying wine is a personal experience. So, drawing up a definitive list of the top wines is not easy. Nikhil agrees, saying, “Taste is personal and can change based on the occasion or simply the time of the day.” So, instead of getting a list of top wines, we get Nikhil to give us his list of favourite, luxury red (he prefers red) wines from across the world:

India: Fratelli Sette 2010 (I will specify the vintage here, since it is dramatically different from its first vintage 2009)
France: Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux,
Italy: Sassicaia, Bolgheri
Australia: Henschke Hill of Grace ( Shiraz), Eden Valley
Chile: Montes Purple Angel (Carmenere), Colchagua Valley

Wine accessories
If you’re putting together an impressive wine cellar, you’re going to need accessories to go along with it. Take a look at a few of our favourites:

Pour a glass
Nothing makes drinking wine easier than this wine stopper and pourer from www.houseproud.in.
Price Rs 450

Like a King
Store your bottles in this gorgeous crown wine rack from www.houseproud.in
Price Rs 3,650

Crack it open
To make your wine experience more luxurious, pick up this five piece deluxe corkscrew set from www.houseproud.in
Price Rs 5,000

Stop it!
Make drinking wine more fun! We love these colourful wine stoppers from the Sanctum Store in Khar (W).
Price Rs 590

Place it on a tray
Serving wine at your next party? Pick up this pretty tray and tissue box from Eastern Treasure Lifestyle in Bandra (W).
Price Rs 19,400

Chill out
We love how fashionably wine bottles chill in this box from Kinerhs Collection at Tardeo.
Price On request

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