Easy Drinking Wines from SDU Winery (Deva Wines)

Those who know me know that I enjoy my wine. In the two-something years since I’ve moved back to India, I have often bemoaned the lack of good and affordable wine choices. Certain brands that come highly touted have been disappointing. And imported variants of course cost a fortune! So even when I came across a bottle of something I had drunk before and enjoyed, a price tag of INR 2000+ where I had bought it for $15, kept me away.  I am no wine connoisseur, nor am I am wine snob. I go purely on taste and how I find the wine. This attitude has held true for many years now – I loved my Trader Joe’s $2.99 bottles as much as I enjoyed a $16.99 bottle of Chianti from Cost Plus World Market. Malbecs were my last find in the US and a wine I came to relish. Now, be it India or the US, I could never afford to browse in the fancy racks and imbibe the finer wines, except on rare/special occasions. Still, all said and done, I love everything about wine: the taste, the aroma, the color, the feeling of content that washes over one after a good glass/bottle. So, an invitation to check out a brand new entry on the Indian wine scene (with vineyards just a stone’s throw away in the Nandi Hills appellation), was met with a resounding “yes!”

Bottles of Happiness
Bottles of Happiness

SDU Winery, maker of Deva Wines, has a lovely property and I was amazed and impressed by how compact and efficient the entire process of creating a bottle of Deva is. Our group of bloggers was given a peek into the wine making process and detailed explanations of how the various machines (yes, this is an almost completely machine-driven, automated process) fulfilled their roles, from de-stemming the grapes to bottling and labeling procedures. The huge tanks where the wines were stored were an impressive and massive sight! And we also got the chance to go into a room full of French Oak wooden barrels of wine which were in the process of maturing, and lent an aroma that had to be smelled to be appreciated! (Not all Deva Wines get this treatment, just the Reserves which are not yet on the market and will retail for higher than the first set that’s currently out).

Over the course of a Saturday afternoon, we ate, drank, listened and learned, a whole lot. I came away with more knowledge of wine terminology and a better understanding of why people do things like swirl wine in their glass or stick their noses full into the glass (its the see-smell-swirl-resmell-taste routine). Mohit Nischol, Head of Operations and resident wine expert at SDU Winery, gave us the basics and then very patiently answered all our myriad questions (I’ve always wondered, is there any difference or superiority to a cork closure versus a screw cap? Ans: nope, its just that cork was the old school method and one that has attained a certain snob value, even though at times cork can be porous and let some air out, whereas with a screw top you’re assured of the airtightness of the wine, thus maintaining its intended flavor). SDU Winery is focusing on unfussy, easy drinking wines, the kind that will appeal to anyone, beginner or habitual drinker, and where you can decide based on your palate, rather than being intimidated by a long list of wine dos and don’ts. We tried their currently in the market 2012 Deva Syrah and Deva Cabernet Sauvignon, and then were given a preview of what’s up next: the 2013 vintage of these two wines. We also were served small portions of the still in process Deva Chardonnay, which, given how it tasted in due process, should be quite excellent once its ready!

The perfect accompaniment
The perfect accompaniment

At the first chance I got, I opened and shared the bottle of their 2012 Syrah (INR 500) that I received, and am now eagerly looking forward to breaking out the Cabernet Sauvignon (INR 600). At those prices for the full size bottle, Deva is not just smooth to drink, but easy on the wallet too! Being told that the winery is not open for tours, and that we were given a special look-see so we could understand the process, taste the wines and then write about it, just added to the experience; another one of those times when I absolutely love being a food blogger! So, whether you just want to relax and unwind with a glass, or whether you’re having friends over and want to impress them with your latest find, grab a bottle from the SDU stables. Santé! Slange Var!

For more on their offerings: http://www.sduwinery.com/

Photos courtesy Ruth D’souza Prabhu

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in