With the flavours of India drawing rave reviews everywhere, from cinema to fashion, wine couldn’t be far behind. Bringing home the silver medal at the 2008 Mondial du Merlot, Switzerland, Indage Vineyard’s Preserve, Merlot, spells the beginning of a new conquest for India.
Toasted as the Oscars of the Merlot, the Mondial de Merlot is the premiere competition for wine makers specialising in the ruby red wine. Ranjit Chougule, MD, Indage Vintners, is upbeat about being an Indian in the wine-making business.
“The Europeans have grown up watching their parents drinking wine, and are now moving to other spirits like vodka and rum,”
he explains. “But when they see a wine from an exotic place like India, their interest is immediately sparked off.”
Such awards he believes are a shot in the arm.
So why is there a sudden interest in Indian wines? The resveratrol levels in Indian wine and the health benefits attached to it are what make the beverage sweeter to foreign tastebuds.
“Resveratrol is the nutrient in wine that helps cut through cholesterol and has anti-aging properties as well. Owing to the stressful situations the vine has to combat in tropical environs, it produces more resveratrol,” explains Chougule. “The only tropical countries that make wine are Thailand and India.. and ours is infinitely better.”
The company released the wine in London, UK but Chougule has several reasons to celebrate back home. “The Indian palette is changing as we learn more about fine wine. We’re moving away from traditional port wine to dryer variants,” he points out.
A major contributor to the growth in the wine sales are the wine tasting sessions that numerous pubs and vineyards host.
Chougule explains that while attending a single tasting session might not make you an expert, it does make people more confident about ordering wines without help from an expert. “Wine tasting is all about de-mystifying wine. Once you are confident and know the basics, it enhances your knowledge and appreciation of the beverage,” he asserts.
And what does Chougle have to say to the wine snobs who draw up a lot of do’s and dont’s at the table? “I say ignore them,” he laughs. “If you’ve bought the wine, you have the right to enjoy it anyway you choose. So whether you put ice in it or mix it with coke, nobody should tell you what to do.”