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On an Italian wine trail

india Updated: Jul 27, 2012 00:50 IST
Debasmita Ghosh
Debasmita Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Remember the 1995 romantic drama, A Walk in the Clouds, where Hollywood heartthrob Keanu Reeves wooed his lady love in lush green romantic vineyards? One may think that such romantic lives in a picturesque backdrop exist only in fiction. But winemaker and enologist Valerio Mondo, who visited the Capital recently, actually lives this life.

“The first thing I see after waking up is my sprawling green vineyard against the clear blue sky, and then I start my day with a glass of sparkling wine and cheese,” says the grandson of famous winemaker Franco Mondo.

After the second World War, Franco Mondo, an army personnel, started this vineyard in Piedmont, Italy in barely three hectares of land, growing only Barbera grapes. Today it’s a sprawling 13-hectare estate that also grows grapes such as Moscato Bianco, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cortese, Chardonnay and more. Valerio, whose parents, wife and daughters are all involved in the traditional family business, says that his affair with winemaking started at an early age, when he spent most of his time with his grandpa at the vineyards and cellars, surrounding their ancestral home. So, is wine a part of the daily menu at home, back in Italy?

“Oh, yes. My dad wouldn’t have dinner without his glass of red wine. In fact that’s the norm in most households in the countryside there,” he says, adding, “Drinking half-a-litre of wine daily is good for the heart, it improves blood circulation.” Being in business for 22 years now, does he see any drastic change in the wine culture? “Earlier only restos and shops would order in bulk. Now even families are buying wines on per bottle basis. I even notice this trend in India where more people are waking up to the taste of wine over other alcoholic hard drinks,” says Valerio says.

So what wine does he recommend with Indian food. “A mildly sweet sparkling wine would help cleanse the palate after a spicy Indian dish,” he says.

Pair your wine right
While cheese is anytime the best thing to pair with wine, there are many other dishes that can pep up your palate, said winemaker Valerio Mondo, over the food and wine pairing evening at Sartoria. “Pasta, ravioli, red meat, beef, lamb all go well with red wine. With seafood, pizza or some crunchy zesty appetizer go for a white wine,” he says. Elaborating on the topic, Saurabh Khanijo of Sartoria, adds, “You could start your meal with some cheese and Proseco, moving over to a light-bodied white wine with a tangy appetizer. For the main course such as pasta or risotto, you could go for a heavier white wine.” While the evening ended with a red wine paired with tenderloin, the dessert wine served with the caramel custard was a delight.