January  2008



From the current issue

 Art in Emerging India


 Top 3 TV Presenters
 George Alagiah
 Sanjay Gupta
 Mishal Husain

 Special Feature on
 Indian Wine

 Story of Indian Wines

 Top 3 Indian Wineries
 Chateau Indage
 Grover Vineyards

 Indian Wine

 Wine culture
 Wine 'rites' & pairing
 The right wine glass


Hot Wheels in India

 Lahore Gymkhana
 Cricket Club



 Films - Book Reviews
 Mr & Mrs Dutt

 Romancing with Life

 Maitreya Temple

 Mumbai Convocation
 Hall & Galle Hotel

 Altit Settlement


 Alpana Singh





 the print gallery

 the art gallery





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 Tried and tasted!

By Dev Duggal


“Wine reminds me of opera. I enjoy it even though I don’t always understand what’s being said.” Fifth Wave cartoon by Rich Tennant

Writing on esoteric topics does not come easily to me – I have always found it daunting. My only assault weapon for such journalistic tasks is ‘demystification’. So, when I was asked by The South Asian Life & Times to write a piece on ‘Wine in India’, I knew I would be getting into intimidating tannins but then I love challenges of the liquid kind. A task as monumental as this required expert assistance – so I enrolled two Indophile buddies – a Frenchman and an Italian – to help me through the process. Italy, they say, is a nation that has eleven soccer players on the field, and 58 million coaches to guide them. So true for wine too! Antonio, my Italian pal has been following Indian wines since he discovered a local ‘wine’ in Udaipur! He believes he understands Indian wines the way nobody else does. Philippe, my French buddie, is more of a wine snob and not as adventurous as Antonio. Between the three of us we had over hundred wine-years of drinking experience – New New World, New World, Old World - to our credit. We are ordinary guys with different professional backgrounds – architecture, medical, finance - who like to enjoy what we drink. Our wine vocabulary is limited to ‘excellent’, ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

Our first meeting, obviously over wine, to discuss a strategy that would be fair to all, was strangely reminiscent of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final between Italy and France. Italy had won the championship in a penalty shootout – this time, however, it was a draw. They agreed that I would do the writing while they would focus on the more challenging task of wine tasting.

Ground realities
Our objective was not to pass judgment on any brand – we let our senses do the ‘talking’. We tried whatever we could find in the market – there has been a lot of good press on Vintage Wines – but we could not find it in Delhi – nor for that matter in Mumbai. Some wines, of the same brand and same vintage, such as Grover’s Cabernet-Shiraz, tasted different in different cities – we loved it in Mumbai, while it seemed very diluted and watery in Gurgaon. Indage has an extensive portfolio which made some of its products available somewhere, sometime. Availability and visibility was a major issue with all major brands. We did not come across any single wine shop that stocked all major brands – there were no choices – take it or leave it. We picked up Grover wines from Gurgaon and Mumbai, Sula from Delhi (with great difficulty), and Indage from multiple outlets in Gurgaon and Delhi (different outlets from the ones that sold us Grover and Sula!)– we had some running around to do for their Ivy range. Buying the different brands was a frustrating battle – ground realities need to be addressed.

Ours was not a ‘Judgement of Delhi’. Several things surprised us as we tasted the one dozen or so different wines for this article. The most encouraging was that most of the Indian wines we tasted were surprising on the palate – especially the whites. Secondly, though they lack the intellectual appeal to the connoisseur, they are good everyday wines – some better than the others.

If we had to go through an evening of wines – our choices would be Indage’s Ivy Brut - made of Chardonnay, Riesling and Muscat grapes (we preferred it to their more popular and pompous ancestor Marquise de Pompadour), Sula’s Sauvignon Blanc, and Grover’s La Reserve – a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz.

 3 steps to enjoy Indian wine

Step 1 - The good thing about Indian wines is they have not yet acquired the status of cult wines that unleash passion or enthusiasm , nor  have they been designated as works of Art – they are umcomplicated, simple, straight forward wines (some more drinkable than others), and you really don’t have to know much about them in order to enjoy them. So relax and breathe easy – that’s step 1.

Step 2 – you don’t need a personal trainer to navigate you through Indian wines – there are no vintages to compare. Hence no wine snobs to contend with. Reason to relax further!

Step 3 – Enjoy the wine – don’t turn it into an intellectual activity!





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