In our last post, we told you about tables grapes in India and how they came into our lives. But today wine is gaining equal, if not more importance in our food habits. And so, during this grape season, we also tell you a wee bit about wine grapes and how wine is winning hearts all over the country.Wine is not new to India. In fact, it is believed to be a few millennia old – around the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Surprisingly after that, the earliest evidence found is from the time of the Persian invasion, when some rulers were believed to consume wine. Of course, the French, the Portuguese and the British had their influence and even planted some vineyards for wine making in India.In 1883-84, in the Great Calcutta International Exhibition, Indian wine was showcased for the first time ever, and it received great response! Sadly, however, few years later a disease found its way into the vineyards and the epidemic destroyed them all. In the early 20th century, the British tried to replant the vineyards, but refrained from doing so due to social opposition.Even after independence, many states had prohibited alcohol but gradually loosened up. While some brandy units were set up in the 70’s, real wine production in India in modern times was pioneered by Shyam Choughule of Indage, who introduced Marquise de Pompadour, a sparkling wine in the 80’s with French collaboration. Kanwal Grover took the cue and started Grover Vineyards, which emerged a leader in premium wines.
It was only after the entry of Rajeev Samant of Sula, that the wine industry really took off. Today, Sula is the biggest producer of wine in India. Smaller wineries followed, like York, Chateau D’Ori, Fratelli and many more. Today, Indian wineries produce some very fine wines, and are being exported and appreciated world over. With rising global exposure and falling social taboos, wine is getting to its rightful place of a food accompaniment, and away from being just an ‘alcoholic drink’. Food and wine pairing is generating a lot of interest as it enhances the entire dining experience.
The wine world is complex, and to make good wine is no mean feat. There are more than 10,000 varieties of wine grapes, so good luck selecting the right ones to start with!
Fortunately, ancient wisdom, studies and experiments have proven some varieties to be more suitable than others, so it narrows the list down considerably. Below, we tell you about some major wine varieties that are grown in India and their flavours in brief, along with their pronunciation, so you come out shining from any discussion about wine with friends!
Chenin Blanc (shen in blahnk)
Fruity with honey, usually sweet and easy to drink
Sauvignon Blanc (saw vee nyon blahnk)
Crisp, grassy and aromatic, generally goes well with a variety of vegetarian, poultry and sea food dishes
Chardonnay (shar doh nay)
Wide range of fruity flavours, butter and versatile to pair
Cabernet Sauvignon (cab er nay saw vee nyon):
Spicy, rich in black fruits and tannins, more complex than other red wines
(Tip: Call is Cab Sauv in casual conversations and people will not turn to anyone else for wine advice)
Merlot (mer loh)
Red fruits, easy to drink and has lesser tannins than a Cab Sauv
Shiraz (she raaz)
Spicy, jammy flavours with black fruit. Quite possible to confuse with Cabernet Sauvignon, but is typically less spicier
Have a happy wine time!