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Italian wines a huge hit in India

Publication of 'The Italian Wine Guide' unmistakbly indicates the rising popularity of Italian wine in India.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 14:18 IST

What's common to a Sori San Lorenzo and a Sangiovese Rubicon and what differentiates them? Both are Italian wines but one costs a staggering Rs 30,000 a bottle and the other a mere Rs 610.

Now, don't throw up your hands and scream "Mama Mia!" if you don't understand why this is so. Help is at hand in the form of 'The Italian Wine Guide' that lists 312 wines that are available in Delhi and Mumbai alone.

Indeed, it's a sign of how popular Italian wines are,that a guide of this kind has become possible, explained Italian Trade Commissioner Giancario Lamio while releasing the work in New Delhi.

The publication comes ahead of the week-long 'Taste of Italy' food festival in New Delhi and Mumbai from Friday, one of the elements of the 'Year of Italy festivities' currently underway.

At Rs 300,the 98-page book might be steeply priced but, as Lamio pointed out,"Each review has been painstakingly written and also recommends serving temperatures and food matches, to answer those questions that are most commonly asked by consumers and hoteliers."

"It'll help you select the right wines for the right occasions; it's a guide that sets out to demystify Italian wines for connoisseurs," he added, of which some 1.2 million bottles are estimated to have been imported in 2005.

Thus, each of the wines reviewed is classified under five heads: type(red or white), region, grapes, description, and food match.

Compiled by Subhash Arora of the Indian Wine Academy and journalist Sourish Bhattacharyya, the guide also provides the wine lists of leading five-star and independent restaurants in New Delhi and Mumbai.

What, then, distinguishes a Sori San Lorenzo from a Sangiovese Rubicon?

The first, says the guide, "shows a deep red colour that turns inky. Exotic spices lurk in another layer. Flavours of highly concentrated dark, ripe fruits abound... (It is an) excellently balanced wine".

Its poor cousin is, well, a poor cousin: "Dark, ruby red; soft, spicy, simple and inexpensive quaffable wine."

The two ends of the scale apart, many of the wines are priced at Rs 1,080 and rise gradually to Rs 15,000. There is then a jump to Rs 18,000, progressing through Rs 21,500 to Rs 25,000 and finally Rs 30,000 - of which there are just two brands listed.

The guide also offers valuable tips on determining the quality of an Italian wine.

At the top of the four-tier pile is Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), that is denoted by a pink sticker on bottle necks.

Next in the pecking order is Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), denoted by a light green sticker on the bottle neck.

Then comes Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), while at the bottom of the ranking is Vino da Tavola (VdT) that accounts for the vast majority of Italian wines. VdT indicates an inferior, quaffing wine.

No marks for guessing that Sori San Lorenzo is a DOCG and Sangiovese Rubicon a VdT.

The guide answers some frequently asked questions on preserving wine. For instance: Why does wine require special storage? Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or fluctuations in temperature and humidity, all types of wine can spoil. When properly stored, wines not only maintain their quality but many actually improve in aroma, flavour and complexity as they mature.

* What is the ideal temperature for wines? Around 14 degrees Celsius, much like the cool caves used to store wines in Italy.

* What role does humidity play in wine storage? Properly humidity is required to prevent corks from drying out, therefore preventing oxidation that can lead to spoilage.

* How should bottles be stored? Storing bottles on their sides is vital for keeping corks moist. This horizontal position can be achieved with various types of racking.

Then, for those of you sufficiently inspired by all this to go into the wine business, there's also a list of Italian wine importers in Delhi and Mumbai.

Is there anything left to be said?

Cin-Cin (that's Cheers in Italian)!