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Wine & Spirits

Toasting the Stout Irish Spirit

It is said that an Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass and not fall off the face of the earth. And since there are no confirmed news reports of an Irishman falling off the face of our planet, this can only mean that no one can beat the Irish at the drinking game.
If you like your beer, the place to savour its different varieties is definitely Europe. However, the rich, dark Irish stout is the crowning glory of beers across the continent. And it holds place of pride in pubs across Ireland. In fact don’t be surprised to walk into a pub and see the locals drink their beer as if it were a liquid supplement to their dietary requirement.

The Omnipresent Presence of Guinness

Refreshing Dark Stout Beer

Guinness is synonymous with Irish beer and you can almost hear it flex its strong muscles to welcome you with a warm hug the moment you step into any Irish bar. Its dark hue notwithstanding, this is a surprisingly light beer and will not weigh you down – depending of course on how many pints you have downed! But don’t let this classic brew overawe you, because there are several other equally stellar beers you can try. The other popular Irish brews include Harp, a crisp, light lager and Murphy’s Amber, a light ale. If you are adventurous, then sip on the Kilkenny, a red ale that has a distinct sweet malty taste.
Of course, the Irish know that not everyone likes beer, but who can say no to cider? That is why most Irish watering holds have Bulmers Cider, a sweet and hard cider that is served with copious amounts of ice.

Getting to the Root of the Brews

The Irish are justified in being proud of their beer, they also take immense pride in showcasing the preparation of the brew. If you truly want to appreciate the culture of beer in Ireland, plan your itinerary in a way that you can spare a few days to visit the various microbreweries in the country. Many of these boutique breweries organise beer appreciation tours where you can sample their local brews. The best place to begin your beer trail would be Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Located in the heart of the St. James’s Gate Brewery, it has even found a place on Ireland’s must-visit tourist spots. A visit to the brewery itself is not possible, but a guided tour of the storehouse will shed an interesting light into the country’s beer culture and history. Since no beer tour is complete without tasting, chug down some of their beers at the Gravity Bar while taking in the panoramic view over Dublin.

Bridge in Dublin at night
You can then go southwards to the small, but busy, Carlow Brewing Company in Carlow. You will need to call them in advance and request for a tour that coincides with their production schedule. If you are lucky to get this opportunity, you can sample several of their beer varieties, including a stout, wheat beer and red ale that are brewed using traditional Celtic methods.
Further south is the St. Francis Abbey Brewery in Kilkenny. Probably the oldest brewery started by monks in medieval times, you can sign up with Smithwick, which offers exclusive brewery tours of this brewery. Not only can you get a chance to see the Brewhouse where Smithwick’s is actually brewed but you can also visit the stunning 13th century St. Francis Abbey, which sits on the site of the brewery.

These are but some of the famous breweries in Ireland, and every city boasts of its own microbreweries with their own craft beer. Research well before you plan your visit to Ireland. It will be a shame if you miss out on visiting these landmarks of the brewing industry, that have received critical acclaim the world over. The Irish add an element of rusticity to everything they touch – be it their poignant poetry, their fervor for contact sports or their passion for their brew. This country gave birth to Stout beer that resonates with craic or bonhomie, bravado and camaraderie; just like the Irish!

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Wine & Spirits

Which Wines Best Accompany Indian Food

With all the mouth-watering flavors of Indian foods, which beverages do the best job to accompany or further enhance the delicious flavors of Indian cuisine? With the range of Indian dishes from sweet to spicy, it is important that you pair up just the right wine or beer with your dish. Just keep a few tips in mind and you will be on your way to fully enjoying your Indian meal!

Indian Beer

Nothing is better than to cool off your taste buds while eating authentic Indian dishes than Indian beer! With delicious Indian cuisine being plated on beautiful square dinnerware, you’re thinking, “Really a beer and not a glass of fine wine?” It is true; beer is a perfect match with Indian cuisine. The overall opinion is that lagers are a perfect pairing with the spices that heat up some Indian dishes. Some delicious Indian beers include: Kingfisher, Jhoom, Taj Mahal, Maharaja Premium Lager, and Dansberg. However, there is one beer that stands out from the rest, Hitachino Nest Beer-Ginger Brew. This brew is a ginger beer, which has a subtle sweetness to it. Hitachino Nest Beer-Ginger Brew is best when paired up with a spicy curry dish!

gold beer in the hand and beer taps

Wines


With regards to which wines compliment Indian cuisine, the traditional standard “rules” should be thrown out the window and completely ignored. “Rules” such as white wines go best with chicken and red wines go best with beef. Indian food has a complex mixture of spices woven throughout their dishes and this is how we will be pairing wines with Indian dishes, based on the flavor of the dish, not what the dish consists of. Remember, you do not want to a have powerful tasting wine, as it may overshadow the dish itself. While a ros? compliments a wide range of Indian dishes, there are a few wines that do compliment specific Indian dishes.

Wine Glasses and Grapes

Sauvignon Blanc
A Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect compliment to almost any Indian dish. The grapes typically used to make this wine are naturally high in acidity and compliment spicy Indian dish quite well. You would want a lighter-bodied wine (one with a low alcohol content) served with Indian cuisine as you would not want to increase the heat from the dish, which high amounts of alcohol tend to do. The aroma and crispness of a Sauvignon Blanc compliments the following dishes quite well: chicken curry, pakoras, tandoori machchi (tandoor grilled monkfish tail with coconut rice), and samosas. So, find the wine bottle opener, your fine dinnerware and serve up one of these specialty dishes.

Gewürztraminer
Gewürz actually means spice and if you want to pair a Gewürztraminer up with other spices you may find in Indian cuisine, you are on the right track. Typically, this wine smells like cooking spices such as cinnamon and ginger, yet can have a bit of sweetness to it as well. As long as the Gewürztraminer is a crisp, dry version it will work well with spicy Indian dishes.

Syrah
Most people would not pair red wine with Indian meals at all. However, a Syrah would work beautifully with quite a few Indian dishes. A Syrah is a medium to full bodied red wine that can have a slight peppery taste, which compliments dishes such as Lamb in a Creamy Curry Sauce.

Gone are the days when one would think alcohol and an Indian meal lack synergy. As you can see, knowing which Indian spices are used, makes it easier to pair up a wine or beer for that matter, to compliment the meal brilliantly. Best of both worlds, I’d say! Which wines do you normally go for with your Indian meal. Share with us and we can create our own Inventory list.

Contributor: Ann Martin

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Wine & Spirits

A Little Bit Of ‘Americana’ – Napa, California

Californian wines have come a long way from being perceived as a ‘poor man’s substitute for good wine’ to command its own place in the world. Winemakers and vineyards from Napa and Sacremento valleys regularly feature at international competitions and have won many accolades.

The wines we have for you today are among the very best from Napa Valley, one of the most well-known wine regions of the world.

Napa Valley AVA, California

Region: Just like the DOCG classification of France, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region in the United States. It is distinguishable by geographic features, and its boundaries are defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the United States Department of the Treasury.

Napa Valley, American Viticulture Area, California, United States of America, USA, Kendall Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Stag's Leap, Cabernet SauvignonClimate: Napa, and California in general, has a Mediterranean climate. The geography and geology of the region contribute massively to the conduciveness to raising quality wine grapes. In addition to that, several mesoclimates (restricted to tens or hundreds of meters) exist within the AVA due to various weather and geographical influences. Due to its proximity to the San Pablo Bay, the open southern end is cooler during the grape ripening season, while the northern end remains much warmer. The eastern end is quite arid due to its proximity to the desert and also since it is on the leeward side of the Rockies. The southern end of the valley has soil rich in sediments, while the northern end is mostly volcanic.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Price: INR 800

Style: Off-dry

Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Color: Clear, off-pale with a golden tint

Nose: Ripe pears, fresh lemongrass and lot of citrusy freshness of grapefruti are dominant in this medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc.

Palate: The palate reinforces the freshness of the nose with notes of ripe pears and lemongrass with an Napa Valley, American Viticulture Area, California, United States of America, USA, Kendall Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Stag's Leap, Cabernet Sauvignonadded citrusy zing to them. It is wonderfully aromatic and juicy with the added notes of grapefruit on the mid-palate, and some figs and mild minerality (which is seen quite a few other products from Napa Valley) on the end palate.

Serving Temperature: 9-12ºC

Food Pairing: It is perhaps the most versatile wine from the Napa region. Pairs well with red meat dishes like Rogan Josh, light aromatic curries like chicken curry, prawn curry, spicy tikkas, Hyderabadi biryani, pork vindaloo, Malvani fish, chicken and goat curries, Bengali fish curries, spicy vegetable dishes, and fresh summery salads.

Notes: If you’ve had a pre-set perception about wines from Napa Valley, the KJ Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc will change that for you. It is one of the finest examples of new-world winemakers taking on the challenge of creating something wonderful with an old-world grape. Finding a bottle of this wine, however, is still slightly challenging and the best bet is duty-free shops for now.


Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Napa Valley, American Viticulture Area, California, United States of America, USA, Kendall Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Stag's Leap, Cabernet SauvignonPrice: INR 3800 (approx.)

Style: Dry, with soft and supple tannins

Grape: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 2% Malbec

Color: Dark, ruby red

Nose: Black cherries and plums dominate the nose, complemented with hints of vanilla and rosemary

Palate: This dry red wine from California is a perfect blend of fruity and earthy flavours on the palate. The palate mirrors the nose with notes of black cherries and ripe, black plums with tremendous amounts of fruitiness that is well complemented by earthy notes of rosemary and hints of black pepper and cinnamon on the end palate. The tannins are soft and supple, never overpowering the fruitiness of the Napa Valley, American Viticulture Area, California, United States of America, USA, Kendall Jackson, Sauvignon Blanc, Stag's Leap, Cabernet Sauvignonwine at any point. The finish is medium to long with added spice and dark chocolate notes.

Serving Temperature: Best serving temperature hovers between 12-15ºC for Indian summers

Food Pairing: Pairs well with steaks, light curries, kebabs, Awadhi biryani, tandoori chicken, and lightly spiced chicken tikkas. Actually, pair it with anything lightly spiced with aromatic spices like cinnamon, black cardamoms, black peppers, nutmeg, star anise etc.

Notes: This is one wine that is sort of hard to find in the Indian market. However, if you do find it, especially at the duty-free shops, do get yourself at least one bottle of this fabulous wine and you will not regret that decision.

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Wine & Spirits

Wines That Are Easy On The Pocket

All wines are not meant to be equal. Each bottle has a story to tell – the story of the winemaker, the vineyard, the grape, the process and much more. The wines we have selected for you today are some of the most cost effective labels that are never too harsh on the pocket and yet deliver a brilliant experience with each glass.

Cono Sur Bicycle Chardonnay

Region: Chimbarongo, Chile

Climate: Mild summers, with cool nights and foggy morningsCono Sur, Bicycle Chardonnay, Chilean Wines, Hardy's Stamp Chardonnay Semillion, Australian Wines, Italian Wines, Chianti, Tuscany, Umbria, Ruffino Orvieto Classico

Price: INR 1420

Style: Off-Dry at 13.6%

Grape: Chardonnay

Color: Yellow-green with golden tinge

Nose: Intense and fresh aromas of citrus fruits, white peaches, melons and mild minerals.

Palate: The palate demonstrates a fresh youthfulness with citrus fruits featuring very prominently on the mid and end palate. The end palate also demonstrates a fresh minerality that goes very well with the overall mouth feel of this young Chardonnay. As with all Chardonnays, the Cono Sur Bicycle Chardonnay has the typical creaminess on the mid palate that is as refreshing as the citric acidity of the wine.

Serving Temperature: 10-12ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with summer salads, fish, light curries, green olives, kebabs, tikkas, and tandoori chicken. Good for unpaired consumption in summers when served chilled at 10ºC.


Ruffino Orvieto Classico

Region: Umbria, Italy

Climate: The Orvieto Classico region of Umbria, Italy has a rich history of wine making. The chalky limestone soil, called tufa, predominant in the Classico area, along with remnants of volcanic soil, gives a unique character to the wines from the region. The wines produced demonstrate a fair amount of Cono Sur, Bicycle Chardonnay, Chilean Wines, Hardy's Stamp Chardonnay Semillion, Australian Wines, Italian Wines, Chianti, Tuscany, Umbria, Ruffino Orvieto Classicominrality on the nose and palate, along with fresh citrusy notes of fruits and flowers.

Price: INR 1530

Style: Dry

Grape: 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico and 40% Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco

Color: Lightly pale, bright and clear

Nose: Green apples, some amount of peaches, and floral notes dominate the nose.

Palate: This dry white wine demonstrates a true Italian heritage of smooth, refreshing flavors that balance beautifully with its structure and acidity. A unique mineral character that comes from the chalky limestone soil of the region adds to the summery charm of this wine giving it a long and fragrant finish with hints of almond on the end palate.

Serving Temperature: 10-12ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with dishes that use liberal amounts of rosemary, light curries, summer salads, green olives and mild flavoured cheeses like mozzarella, excellent for unpaired consumption in summers. To pair this wine with Indian dishes, avoid dishes that use heavy amounts of pungent oils like mustard or strong flavours like asafetida.


Hardy’s Chardonnay Semillion

Region: McLaren Vale, Australia

Climate: Australian climate is quite similar to the Mediterranean region, and McLaren Vale is one of the best examples of that. Warm dry summers and cool wet winters, with low relative humidity and relatively high evaporation are normal to the region with little risk of rainfall or frost during the harvest period, making it a brilliantly predictable place to raise grapes for premium wines.

The proximity to sea results in hot summer days that are moderated by cool westerly, southerly or easterly breezes off the surrounding ocean, and also the ‘Gully Winds’ from the Hills giving a prolongedCono Sur, Bicycle Chardonnay, Chilean Wines, Hardy's Stamp Chardonnay Semillion, Australian Wines, Italian Wines, Chianti, Tuscany, Umbria, Ruffino Orvieto Classico ripening period for the grapes on the vine allowing them to accumulate flavour and intensity.

Price: INR 1230

Style: Medium body, off-dry

Grape: Chardonnay Semillion

Color: Light, pale golden

Nose: Tropical fruits, peaches and apples on the nose, with delicate influence of oak.

Palate: The Hardy’s Stamp Chardonnay Semillion is a medium bodied wine that demonstrates brilliant flavours of tropical fruits like pineapples and passion fruit, white peach and under ripe apples. A mild hint of oak on the nose is transferred to the palate that adds to the body of the wine while allowing the fruit to show through prominently.

Serving Temperature: 10-13ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with summer salads with fruits and nuts, salmon, and chicken. Light Indian curries, kebabs of vegetarian and non-vegetarian origins also pair well with this wine. Excellent summer wine when served chilled at around 10ºC.

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Wine & Spirits

The Big Boys Of Wine

There are wines and there are wines. But the winemakers who have been making wines for generations do have a few aces up their sleeves. The wines we have selected for you today are a few of those aces that have earned a distinction in the world of wines.

Umani Ronchi Podere Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo DOC

Region: Abruzzo DOC, Italy

Climate: The Abruzzo region is located in east-central Italy with the Apennines Mountains to the west podere, montepulciano, umani ronchi, dead-arm shiraz, sangre de toro, torres, miguel torres, catalunya, catalonia, mc laren valeof the region. The mountains act as a barrier to storm systems from the west, but are practically useless to block storm systems originating in the east, often resulting in high precipitation. To the east, the Adriatic Sea provides a Mediterranean climate for the vines.

The soil is rich in calcium and very clayey in nature. The northern vineyards demonstrate altitude and microclimates similar to the central wine regions of Italy like Tuscany, and Umbria. The southern flatlands are humid with more fertile vineyards that show characteristics similar to southern Italian regions like Calabria and Apulia.

Price: INR 880

Style: Medium bodied, off-dry

Grape: Montepulciano

Color: Bright, ruby red

Nose: Red berries and black fruits aromas such as over ripe plums, and blackberry.

Palate: This off-dry wine is round and comes with notes of wild, under ripe strawberry on first sip. The acidity along with the mild-mannered tannins is a refreshing surprise for a red wine. The tannins are complemented by ripe, dark fruits that mirror the nose and give the wine a dash of extra body on the mid palate.

The finish is short to medium with added citrus notes on the end palate along with very mild notes spices.

Serving Temperature: The winemaker advises to serve this wine at 18ºC, however, this wine surprises the palate very pleasantly at 11-13ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with salads, light curries, pastas, and red meats . Good for unpaired consumption in warm weather when served chilled at 11ºC.

Notes: Under the Italian wine laws, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo must have a minimum of 85% Montepulciano grapes, while the rest 15% can be filled up with Sangiovese (another native Italian grape). The grapes are harvested to yield no more than 14 tonnes per hectare and the wine must be aged for a minimum of 5 months before release. Wines aged longer (for a minimum of 2 years in wood barrels) must be labeled as Vecchio and the minimum alcohol levels must be maintained at 12%. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can be produced as a rosé and must be labeled as Cerasuolo.


Torres – Gran Sangre de Toro

Region: Catalunya DO, Spain

Climate: Catalunya has a variety of climates and soils in a relatively small area. As a result, wines from different winemakers in the region can be very different in characteristics depending on the sub-region.

The region enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, sunny summers ( avg. temperature of 28º C) and podere, montepulciano, umani ronchi, dead-arm shiraz, sangre de toro, torres, miguel torres, catalunya, catalonia, mc laren valemild winters (avg. temperature between 8°C and 17°C). As a result, the grapes get a a lot of character from ripening on the vines. Some of the best winemakers belong to this region of Spain. Although the best product from the region is Cava, a sparkling wine, the reds from Catalunya are considered just as good and next only to the Rioja wines from Spain.

Price: INR 1800

Style: Dry

Grape: Syrah, Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta

Color: Garnet-Burgundy red

Nose: Brilliant ripe aromas of wild blackberries with toasted oak notes. Warm, deep, and velvety with deepening aromas on each consecutive whiff.

Palate: The Sangre de Toro is a serious wine that appeals mostly to the very serious wine aficionados. It is dry and demonstrates layer upon layer of aromas and tastes on the palate. The tannins are well-rounded but can be mildly offensive when served without decantation. However, that is the charm of this wine, and a signature Spanish winemaking style – robust and rough around the edges.
The wild fruit aromas are mirrored on the palate along with some prominent spice like cinnamon and nutmeg, with hints of black pepper on end palate. The finish is long and smooth with added notes of dark chocolate and tobacco and hint of fruits and spice, making it a very masculine, yet well-behaved wine.

Serving Temperature: 13-15ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with steaks and red meat dishes, light aromatic curries, assortment of cheeses and fresh summery salads.

Notes: Torres is a force to reckon with in the wine world with more than four generations involved in the winery and with the brand. Torres has presence in Chile and California as well and exports wines to more than 140 countries around the world, making it the largest winery in play.


D’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ Shiraz

Region: McLaren Vale, Australia

Climate: Australian climate is quite similar to the Mediterranean region, and McLaren Vale is one of the best examples of that. Warm dry summers and cool wet winters, with low relative humidity and relatively high evaporation are the norm in the region with little risk of rainfall or frost during the harvest period making it a brilliantly predictable place to raise grapes for premium wines.

The proximity to sea results in hot summer days that are moderated by cool westerly, southerly or easterly breezes off the surrounding ocean, and also the ‘Gully Winds’ from the Hills giving a prolonged ripening period for the grapes on the vine allowing them to accumulate flavour and intensity.

Price: INR 7320

Style: Dry

Grape: Shiraz

Color: Bright red with purple hues

Nose: Black and purple fruits, blackberry, plum, blackcurrant, licorice and sweet beetroot aromas are podere, montepulciano, umani ronchi, dead-arm shiraz, sangre de toro, torres, miguel torres, catalunya, catalonia, mc laren valesubdued initially by peaty, oaky, smoky and earthy aromas that are very easily taken care of by decanting this wine.

Palate: The Dead-Arm Shiraz is another wine meant for the very serious wine lovers. The wine starts off on the palate with petrichor and oak featuring very prominently followed by over ripe black fruits (plums, balccurrant, blackberry, beetroot) and spices (cinnamon, black pepper, mace, and sage – which is very unusual). Tannins are usually strong on the Dead-Arm Shiraz, making it ideal for storage in the cellar under right conditions for at least 10-12 years easily.

Serving Temperature: 13-15ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with game meats, red meats, red meat curries, and soft cheese like Brie.
Notes: The name Dead-Arm is derived from a fungal vine disease that renders one half of the vine dead, while the grapes in the other half notice a significant increase in the intensity of flavours and a much lower yield.

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Wine & Spirits

Beaujolais In India – Wine Reviews

Whoever said that red wines are only meant for the winters has perhaps never had a red wine from Beaujolais. The Beaujolais region or AOC is a part of the Burgundy AOC and produces very light bodied red wines with relatively higher acidity. The grape varietal most widely used in the region is Gamay, a grape that comes with a natural thin skin and light tannins. Some winemakers blend a little Pinot Noir or a local variation called the Pinot Liébault to add a little body to the wine, but not very often. A bottle of Beaujolais is best enjoyed lightly chilled to get a perfect summer red wine that is light on the palate and easy on the tannins.

There are different levels of finesse in the Beaujolais products, however, the Indian market it seems is only open for business to the middle-segment Beaujolais Villages AOC with Cru Beaujolais still a long way off from being available to the Indian consumers at reasonable prices. Here are 3 of the best Beaujolais wines that we found in the Indian market so far.

Region: Beaujolais AOC, France

Climate: Beaujolais enjoys a semi-continental climate with some influence of the Mediterranean Sea. It is slightly warmer than the rest of Burgundy and by the time the winemakers release their produce in November, some regions in the Burgundy foothills get their first snow of the season. Springtime frost is a common hazard in the region. Soil conditions also vary within the region, with the northern and southern halves having very different soil characters. The northern half that produces the more premium Cru Beaujolais has rolling hills of schist, granite and some limestone in the soil composition. The southern region is flatter and has richer soil with sandstone and clay dominating the composition, and some limestone patches. The lack of slopes in the south also results in the grapes being left on the vines much longer than in the north.

As a result of these conditions, the northern region produces more structured, complex wines, while the southern region produces lighter, fruitier and easy drinking wines.

Beaujolais, summer wines, red wine, summer red wines, Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Latour Beaujolais VillagesMaison Louis Latour Beaujolais Villages

Price: INR 2250

Style: Off-Dry

Grape: Gamay

Color: Bright, ruby red

Nose: Red berries and black fruits aromas such as blackberry, and strawberry.

Palate: This mildly off-dry wine is round and comes with notes of wild, under ripe strawberry on first sip. The acidity along with the mild-mannered tannins is a refreshing surprise for a red wine.

The finish is short to medium with added citrus notes on the end palate along with very mild spice notes.

Serving Temperature: 11-13ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with salads, light curries, olives and cheeses. Good for unpaired consumption in warm weather when served slightly chilled at 11ºC.


Maison Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages

Beaujolais, summer wines, red wine, summer red wines, Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Latour Beaujolais VillagesPrice: INR 1830

Style: Off-Dry

Grape: Gamay

Color: Dark, ruby red

Nose: Ripe, dark berries, and fruits with notes of mild spice (cinnamon and nutmeg).

Palate: A juicy wine from one of the larger producers in Beaujolais with notes on the palate mirroring the nose. The wine demonstrates a greater intensity and structure while maintaining the attractive fruitiness on the nose and palate through to the end. This mild extra intensity makes it an excellent partner to some intensely flavoured dishes.

The finish is medium at best with some added citrus berry notes on the end palate along with very mild notes dark chocolate and licorice.

Serving Temperature: 11-13ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with salads, chicken and lamb preparations with aromatic spices cooked in lighter North Indian styles, light curries, olives and cheeses. Good for unpaired consumption as well.


Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais VillagesBeaujolais, summer wines, red wine, summer red wines, Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Latour Beaujolais Villages

Price: INR 2000

Style: Off-Dry

Grape: Gamay

Color: Clear, medium intensity, ruby red

Nose: Red berries, mild flowers and spice.

Palate: On the palate, floral and fruity notes complemented by a typical high acidity of a Beaujolais. Cherry, candied strawberry and cranberry notes along with juicy dark berries. Soft and approachable, the freshness and fruit remain on the palate for quite some time at the finish.

The finish is short to medium with added citrus and licorice notes on the end palate.

Serving Temperature: 11-13ºC

Food Pairing: A versatile wine that is excellent for chilled serving or with chicken, salmon or summer salads.

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Wine & Spirits

Top 5 Beer Brands In India

It is just annoying to click on an article talking about beer and finding some exotic brands available in some remote pub on the planet. Most of them are not even imported into India and the chances of finding them at your neighborhood uncleji’s theka are even more remote than where those brews come from. Given that premise, here’s a list of some of the best brews available in India that are sure to add a zing to your summer afternoons this season.

Stella Artois

There’s more to Belgium than just their waffles. Stella Artois (pronounced Stella Är-tu-ah) is a six-century-old Belgian tradition that has been in the Indian market and winning fans for a while now. With that much tradition involved, there has to be some rituals related to this beer that never get old. But at the end of the day, it is all about the taste, and Stella Artois never ceases to amaze on that front. This full-bodied brew that has a very light texture on the palate is truly worth every penny that it commands.

top 5 beers, india, IPA, indian pale ale, kingfisher, budweiser, corona, hoëgaarden, stella artois, chilled beer, child beer, summer beers, hopsHoëgaarden

First, lets get the pronunciation right – it’s who-gaa-dun, not ho-gaarden, or ho-ga-den. Second, remember the Belgians, well they are the ones making this beauty as well. This creamy wheat beer with its orange peel and coriander notes is among the best wheat beers you will ever taste. Sure there are more from Europe that are finally available in the Indian market, but Hoëgaarden has definitely benefited from the first movers advantage and keeps climbing in popularity ratings very steadily.

Kingfisher Ultra

Yeah, we had to say it. Regardless of the fact that the airline of the same name has been a damp squib, Kingfisher is a brand to reckon with in the India market <insert Kingfisher joke here – oh wait – “there’s a bird in my window, and it’s just sitting there, not flying away. No wonder, it’s a Kingfisher>. Believe it or not, the brand commands an excellent market in North America as well. And the Kingfisher Ultra takes the brew games to a different level for the brand. This beer from the iconic brand is far smoother and crispier than its lower priced cousin and makes for an excellent choice in the hot Indian summers.

top 5 beers, india, IPA, indian pale ale, kingfisher, budweiser, corona, hoëgaarden, stella artois, chilled beer, child beer, summer beers, hopsCorona Extra

To be honest, it is the Kingfisher equivalent from Mexico – the beer of the masses. Everyone enjoys a chilled Corona on a hot summer day. And as for the lime wedge –story goes that it is placed at the mouth of the bottle just to ward off the flies in Mexico. Nevertheless, the fad has caught on and although it doesn’t really add to the taste or the experience of the beer, it does give it a bit of a distinction. The price is pricey, just because it’s an import, however, not bad at all and very popular among people who want to be seen dunking an imported beer.

Budweiser

Speaking of the beer of the masses, it doesn’t get bigger than the Bud. Thanks to the American-style marketing blitz, Budweiser’s popularity never dips. The taste is fresh, light and good, the price is also good and that keeps its popularity evergreen.

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Wine & Spirits

5 Wines To Add Colour To Your Holi Celebrations

While the rest of the family insists on celebrating Holi with all the colours they can get their hands on, I have my fun enjoying the preparation of a good spread and topping it off with some good wine to bring some of my kinda fun element to the festivities. Getting high has never been a tradition in the family, irrespective of all the clichés attached with Punjabis and booze. That’s why, bhaang on Holi is neither advocated nor liked in my family, especially by the elders. In spite of this aversion to all things intoxicating, the family is warming up to the idea that the eldest son is involved in making good with his passion for wines and beverages. And that’s why, after much debate, some wine is now allowed on the family table – finally.

Wines for Holi

So, if you are like moi and prefer a more grown up way of doing things, here are 5 wines that are sure to add some color to the proceedings on Holi.

FIVE Fratelli Cabernet Franc – Shiraz (INR 670)Holi celebrations, holi with family, family brunch, wine brunch, Fratelli Cabernet Franc – Shiraz, Baron Phillippe De Rothschild Chardonnay Vin De Pays, Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection, Penfold's Koonunga Hills Chardonnay, Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee

One of the rare grapes in the Indian market, the Fratelli Cab Franc-Shiraz is delightful on the senses, especially if you are starting off on your wine exploration journey. Easy on the pocket and on the palate, this red wine is a great accompaniment for lightly spiced snacks, from the vegetarian paneer tikkas to galouti kebabs and quite a few things in between. Just pick up a glass of this really well-crafted wine and set off to explore what your palate fancies.

FOUR Baron Phillippe De Rothschild Chardonnay Vin De Pays (INR 1030)

It is a classic Bordeaux white wine with the hallmark French finesse. I’m particularly fond of Chardonnays, for their creamy texture and consistency and their equally rife acidity. The Baron Phillippe De Rothschild Chardonnay Vin De Pays checks all the boxes and then some. Easy drinking and smooth with lots of juicy fruitiness on the palate are particular traits of this wine. Not to forget, at INR 1030, it is an easy buy too. Pair it with spicy biryani or curries and you have a winner.

THREE Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection Red  (INR 1395)

Holi celebrations, holi with family, family brunch, wine brunch, Fratelli Cabernet Franc – Shiraz, Baron Phillippe De Rothschild Chardonnay Vin De Pays, Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection, Penfold's Koonunga Hills Chardonnay, Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee
Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Collection

I had almost written off Grover Vineyards a few years ago, but boy have they surprised everyone with a great comeback. The Vijay Amritraj collection is an excellent reminder of that brand resurgence. A blend of Cabarnet Sauvignon, Shiraz & Viognier, the VA Reserve is well priced and absolutely fantastic representation of Indian wine making capabilities. It truly shines when paired with aromatic spices, red meats and creamy pastas.

TWO Penfold‘s Koonunga Hills Chardonnay (INR 1880)

Penfold’s has the distinction of the most expensive bottle of wine sold from the vineyard. Even though, this is not it, it is definitely worth the price for a legendary label. Having said that, it is not about the label at the table, it is about the wine. And the Koonunga Hills Chardonnay is a brilliant sport at the table. Pair it with seafoods, lightly spiced Indian meat curries, or even with the desserts.

ONE Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee (1360)

Nothing adds to festivities and celebrations like a good bubbly. Although, not the unchallenged best in the market, the JC Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee is one of the front runners. Its easy availability and the price add further to its popularity. Nice on its own, or when paired with lightly spiced fare, whether seafoods, fritters and kebabs, this bubbly is sure to add a few sparkles to the festivities.

By no means this is an exhaustive list. We’ve compiled this list with the prices in mind at all times. However, the wines on this list are no light-weight fighters, they go to the big leagues every day and win often. But again, it is always about your palate and your preference when it comes to choosing the right wine for your table. We just hope we’ve been of some help.

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Wine & Spirits

Summer Wine Reviews – March

The notorious Indian summers are upon us. Keeping that in mind, we have a couple of refreshing white wines in our March Wine Reviews that are sure to make you lay out the tables for Sunday brunches with family and friends even as the sun beats down upon us all. However, if it is a red wine that you fancy, don’t worry, we have a red wine suggestion for you as well.

Molina – Sauvignon Blanc ReservaWine review, Soldepeñas Blanco Airen, Spain, Molina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chile, Masi Modello Delle Venezie Rosso, Italy, Valpolicella

Region: Elqui Valley, Chile

Climate: Elqui Valley is located at the southernmost tip of Atacama Desert at the 29 degree South latitude. In spite of being so close to the equator, it is one of the most commercially viable wine producing region in Chile. This happens due to the altitude (roughly 6500 ft.). The soil character tends towards being sandy and the general climate conditions are sunny and quite desert-like with less than 70mm annual rainfall. Terrain is quite rocky with Pacific ocean on one side and Andes Mountains on the other, giving the region an excellent conditions for varietals like Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah to develop over a rather prolonged period.

Style: Off-Dry

Grape: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Color: Grassy pale

Nose: Peaches and lemongrass

Palate: This off-dry wine has citrusy notes of peaches and lemongrass that mirror the nose and then some. The acidity is rife and refreshing, making it an ideal summer drink. Being a Reserva, this Sauvignon Blanc has seen some time in the barrel, therefore, added woody notes are prevalent on the palate along with mild notes of petrichor, which is quite unusual for a white wine.

The finish is decent with added citrus notes on the end palate along with notes of juicy, under ripe fruits like peaches and green apples.

Serving Temperature: 7-10ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with pastas, fish, light curries, bread and olives. Good for unpaired consumption in cool weather.

Notes: Chile has been producing some fantastic wines off late and have been very aggressive in marketing them to the entire world. This wine from Chile no exception to that. And with a price point to match, the Molina Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent buy for the hot, arid Indian summers.


 

Soldepeñas – Blanco AirenWine review, Soldepeñas Blanco Airen, Spain, Molina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chile, Masi Modello Delle Venezie Rosso, Italy, Valpolicella

Region: Valdepeñas (Spain)

Soil: Valdepeñas is a region with rocky terrain in the South of Spain

Style: Dry

Grape: 100% Airén

Color: Clear, bright and pale

Nose: Citrus pulp fruits, tangerine zest

Palate: This dry wine is a delight for the senses. Be ready for a very juicy, very citrusy, very zesty experience with this wine as it engulfs your palate in a smooth richness full of flavor and freshness. The palate mirrors the nose with citrus pulpy fruits, sweet lime and tangerine zest. The finish is medium with endnotes of sweet lime and tangerine prominent on the end palate.

Serving Temperature: 7-10ºC

Food Pairing: Pairs well with pastas, tapas, fresh seafood, light curries, and mild spiced kebabs. Good for unpaired consumption on a balmy afternoon.

Notes: Airén is among the more popular varietals from Spain, is drought resistant and as of 2010, covers the largest area under cultivation across the world. Its robust nature against some of the harshest climatic conditions makes it a favorite in dry, semi-arid regions around the world.


 

Masi Modello Delle Venezie Rosso IGTWine review, Soldepeñas Blanco Airen, Spain, Molina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chile, Masi Modello Delle Venezie Rosso, Italy, Valpolicella

Region: Valpolicella, Verona (Italy)

Climate: Valpolicella has mostly cool, continental climate influenced by Adriatic Sea and Lake Garda. Monti Lessini sub-region is the coolest with winds blowing in from the Alps and is called the Classico Zone. Soil conditions vary in different parts of the region between morainic gravel near Lake Garda, dolomite rich gravel with a layer of alluvial deposits in the central plains. The eastern parts of the DOC feature extremely fertile volcanic soil. The classico zone is most suited for viticulture with grapes ripening at altitudes ranging between 490-1500 ft.

Style: Dry, full bodied and smooth

Grape: Likely blend of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara

Color: Ruby red, with a brown-orange rim at the brim

Nose: Roses, watermelon, rosemary, mild notes of cinnamon ending with chocolate and mild tobacco notes.

Palate: This is a brilliant example of a classic Italian wine. Although, it is a non vintage blend and the blending proportions are not specified on the label either, the Masi Modello Della Venezie Rosso is a delight on the senses, and in true Valpolicella style, very easy to drink.

The palate is as expressive as the nose with notes of rosemary, watermelon, flowers, dark, extremely overripe  plums with a very sweet after taste that gives a sensation of residual sugars. However, that is not the case and the wine is absolutely dry in style. The tannins are remarkably smooth and are quite juicy, in fact. The Masi Modello Della Venezie Rosso ends on a medium finish with notes of mild aromatic spices and wild flowers.

Serving Temperature: 11-14ºC

Food Pairing: Drink it as it is. But if you must, pair it with aromatic spiced galouti kebabs or kakori kebabs and enjoy the results. If something traditional is on your mind, try pairing it with a medium rare steak.

Notes: Valpolicella is considered only second to Chianti in wine production and the quality of wines. Wines from the region are known for their easy drinking character, coupled with very expressive bouquets. That, in spite of the fact that most vineyards release their wines within a few weeks of the harvest.

If you ever get the opportunity to travel through the region, find yourself someone to invite you to visit a homestead and taste the house blends. Chances are, you will not find the same wine that is consumed by the family in the open market anywhere.

Courtesy: Trident, Gurgaon