The Pier at Apollo Bunder overlooked the harbour, dotted with anchored white boats, bobbing to the ceaseless waves of the high tide. To the right smaller boats with colourful sails fluttered. It was an appropriate setting for the Mumbai Wine Tasting Fest, a two-day event over the weekend that allowed visitors to sip and taste a variety of wine from India and the world over. So, my last weekend was spent sipping red wine, getting tipsy and speaking to the visitors, the folks running the stalls and those in the business.
I stuck to red wine. It is my preferred choice. Also, I did not want to mix white and red. There was much to be learned and opinions to be shared while wine glasses swirled beautiful shades of red and elevated yours truly to a nice cosy feeling. How can I even forget the fabulous eighties music that played in the background? This was perfect with the lighting getting better to take good pictures and then the allure of dusk giving way to the Pier's fabulous view of the Taj Palace Hotel, the brightly lit promenade and a quiet unlit Gateway.
I am told that wine was introduced to India via Persia way back at the time of the Indus Valley Civilization and encouraged over centuries especially by the Portuguese and the British. Honestly, I don’t mind who gets the credit for that, I love the fact that India, like wine, is beginning to mature to the subtle flavours, the sharpness and the aroma of fine drinking.
Drinking red wine is like a journey, mellow, subtle, now sharp, now fruity, a shade of woody mustiness, smoky and stifling and the occasional dry that parches your soul, nudging it towards a full-on fruity rose`. I am no expert on red wine and I have no knowledge of its rich history. I pick up little details in conversations while I savour the company of friends. The Wine Fest thus, was a journey of a different kind. Between wine and bits of cheese, I figure out a few more things about wine and not in an intimidating sort of way, which is very well.
Wine-making is an art and there is always an imagined landscape of where it came from, was it a sunny place? Did it rain? Did gentle breeze caress the vineyards where the fruit grew? When you sip wine, it is not just another form of alcohol. You have got to feel the beauty of where it came from and find it lingering in your mouth, warming your soul with its mysterious subtle flavours.
Here’s the best of the lot I tasted.
L’Eremo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Ruby red, fruity, emerging from the Mediterranean Azienda Uggiano cellars, the taste of it got to me softly, a hint of fruits, velvety, not too sweet, a mild lingering flavour of blackberry. I like my wine, a little sweeter than dry. Perhaps preference is different to everyone’s palate. The Uggiano Winery is cocooned in the Florentine Hills among monasteries, churches, beautiful villas and olive orchards. It also happened to be the most popular one in the evening for Kiara Wines. As for me, I relish Italian wine! And South African! And Australian! Oh well!
The Montepulciano falls under the Chianti category. Chianti has a very old history that stretches really far back. I am informed that the main type of grape used is Sangiovese but it may sometimes also contain Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The rich fruitiness of the Montepulciano is not too dry and has a hint of a woody flavour that makes it taste all the better.
Kiara Wines, imports and markets white and red wine from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, USA, Chile, Australia, South Africa, to name a few. Join the Kiara Wine Club to have access to information on wine from across the world, tour the wineries and purchase at special prices. For more information, you may browse their website www.kiarawines.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
It was good to speak to Omkar Phadke and Nupur Joshi, wine consultants for Kiara Wines. I spoke to him at length and Omkar took me on journeys, miniature ones, across the globe. Omkar, thank you for the valuable inputs. It was interesting to speak to you and you did tell me a lot.
Reveilo’s Cabernet Sauvignon – The ripeness of the Cabernet Sauviggnon grapes determines whether the wine will be grassy in flavour or be a full-bodied rich one. The Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular and well-recognised variety of wine throughout the world. When I think of it, I think big, bold, strong, not too dry, and just about right. That is exactly what I pleasantly discovered in the glass of wine I had, poured out of a Reveilo’s 2010 bottle. I would slot it in the premium as far as Indian wine is concerned. Aged in European oak for about a year before it comes to the market, there is no doubt that this particular one is a winner. If I had to buy Indian red one, this would be one that I would pick.
The website is due for an upload but basic information and contact details are available. Keep an eye on www.reveilo.com . I spoke to Rubin who said they were producing this 100% in Nashik and catered to major 5 star hotels and fine dines. Next time you are out and don’t know what wine to choose, pick this, uncork and enjoy the flavours. It is a perfect accompaniment to meat, cheese (preferably aged), and steak; go, grab a bottle and settle in for a nice evening.
Another recommended wine from the house of Reveilo would be the 2009 Sangiovese. It’s full of flavour, great texture and a magnificent lingering taste.
My preferred choice in red wine would be something not too dry, a little hint of sweetness, and blending aromas of wooden casks, balanced, full-bodied. Personal choices are the Chianti, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Rose`.
Rose` needs improvements in the Indian Market, but then, there may be more than I have come across so far. The ones I tasted did not lure me away. They were sharp, acidic; the aroma choked the senses rather than tease it. Among those I tasted, the Pinotage Rose` from South Africa, imported by Kingfisher would be a safer bet though it still isn’t what I would pick, given a choice.
Someone though should think of importing Wild Vines in flavours of strawberry white zinfandel, the blackberry merlot, and raspberry zinfandel. I have had plenty of this in Nigeria. But India is yet to savour and dig into the refreshing feel of it. It is the best in the affordable range; something light, refreshing, a celebration by itself.
All photographs and post Copyright Sandy@2012