Raising A Toast to Wines
- Aarti Kapur Singh
Ernest Hemingway had once said, “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
Wine is a must-have at the table in many cultures of the world and its influence on ways of cooking has also been immense. Even the Indus Valley Civilization, wines merchants were amongst the richest individuals in the society because they introduced grapevines from Persia. Indian mythology is replete with mentions of ‘sura’.
Winemaking was also encouraged in the colonial times in India. Since the 1980s, wine production is seeing a boom, with a growing middle class taking more interest in luxury and fine dining.
The modern “art” of food pairings is a relatively recent phenomenon, fostering an industry of books and media with guidelines for pairings of particular foods and wine. The Lalit Hotel in Chandigarh recently organised an experiential evening of tasting Sula, Fratielli and Grover Zampa wines over mouth-watering Indian cuisine at the Baluchi as part of the second Indian Wine Day celebrations.
Both food and wine have texture and flavour. It is when these interact with each other, in the right combination, it makes the entire dining experience more enjoyable.”
It must be noted that food and wine pairing is like a conversation between two people – you have to let them speak one at a time, without overpowering or talking over each other, or else the conversation will be a cacophony.
It was with this ground rule in mind that we went through the myriad wine collection. Here are some of the wines that we loved:
- Sula Citrus Brut Tropicale
This fruity wine had flavors of passion fruit, lemon sherbet, and dominant pear and a creamy and frothy mouthfeel. Perfect as the first drink to offer/ have to get the party started.
- Sula Sauvignon Blanc was great to go with starters. The herby flavor with a peppery zing mixed with a little citrusy flavor made it go perfectly well with Baluchi’s signature Tandoori Broccoli. The zingy finish, I am confident will make it ideal for seafood starters and tandoori finger food as well.
- Fratielli Sangiovese
In Italian, the word ‘fratielli’ means brothers. This extraordinary red Sangiovese is made with Italian blue-black grapes. The taste was, therefore, quite unusual – the perfect blend of acidity and sweetness, but also light bodied. The spice in the aftertaste enhanced the flavors of the delicate Gilawti Kebabs served with the mildly sweet Pheni Parantha, from Baluchi’s famed Naanery.
- Grover Zampa Soiree
While this pale straw colored white wine is served as an aperitif, I was brave enough to try it as a ‘palate cleanser’ between the starters and the main course, simply because of its light and creamy palate with clean fresh lemon, fine beads and persistent mousse with dry finish in a classic brut style. The dry cream cracker finish was not overpowering and the bubbles give it a creamy frothy mouthfeel. I think the white fruity taste of pears would also make this wine an excellent accompaniment with mildly spiced food.
- Grover La Reserve Red
This very deep garnet, almost purple wine was my favorite for the day. Made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes, the aroma was a powerful one of luscious ripe red and black fruits with an exquisite taste of warm spice. The tannins were smooth and the flavors intense, with chocolate, coffee beans, and vanilla. This was the perfect accompaniment for the spread of the famous Dal Baluchi, gosht and biryani. I tried it with some soft cheeses and the flavors were a revelation.
As the grand finale, I also paired my favorite Bakarkhani with the Sula Reisling, but my heart was sold to the La Reserve Red! I think that will be my wine of choice for the entire season!