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Mumbai's vineyard voyage

Take this city duo’s trail through the best wineries just outside Mumbai, download their app to learn about food-wine pairings.

india Updated: May 05, 2012 14:40 IST
Shweta Mehta
Shweta Mehta
Hindustan Times

The next few years are going to be very exciting for wine lovers," declares Aneesh Bhasin. He would know. The photographer-cum-wine connoisseur, along with partner Shiladitya Mukhopadhyaya, recently founded an iOS application — Indian Wine List (IWL). They’ve had great reviews — and in under three weeks, over 1,200 downloads. Other platforms such as Android, Blackberry and Windows will also have their version soon.

WineBhasin elaborates, "A lot of new players are cropping up. Fratelli has come up in a big way this year, and Moët & Chandon will establish themselves next year. The Charosa winery will be up and running by the end of this year or early next year. This is the right time to educate people."

In keeping with this, the duo is hosting Fiesta Uncorked today. The event is a wine trail that’ll take people to two vineyards — Zampa and York — on a day trip, to teach them about winemaking, tasting and interacting with winemakers at both venues.

"We’ve excluded the Valloné vineyard this time. Even Sula has been left out as we feel it’s already popular and people visit it anyway. The aim here is to visit the lesser-known ones," says Bhasin. The event, hosted by Ford, will see participants drive to their destination and back in new Ford Fiesta cars. Can’t make the trip today? Here’s a DIY trail courtesy Bhasin for those who’d like to venture out on their own.

On the app

Indian Wine List is available for download on iOS devices for free. Upcoming initiatives include wine tastings, deals and discounts every Wednesday and mystery boxes at retail stores. They are also planning a few trails people can undertake by themselves. For more information, email or reach out to them on their Twitter or Facebook pages.

Tips for budding wine connoisseurs:
1. Start with white wines and then move on to red ones.
2. Use a proper wine glass. Different glasses can cause a stark variation in taste.
3. It’s not always a good idea to pair Indian food with wine. If you’re eating spicy food, beer might be a better option.
4. Buy wines from good shops that store them correctly. General liquor stores may not stock them at the right temperature, in which case, stick to buying newer wines.
5. Try to be aware of aromas.
6. Don’t be afraid to say what you think, no matter how bizarre it may sound. There are flavours as outrageous as band-aid and grass.

The trail
Valloné comes first at Igatpuri, around 120 kms from suburban Mumbai. IWL swears by their Rosé, which they claim is India’s only Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé and is well packaged too. Another good pick is the Cabernet Sauvignon Classique, a value for money red wine.

From Valloné, head over to nearby Zampa, which houses the most impressive tasting room among all nearby vineyards. As part of the trail, participants will get to try wines that are coming out soon and learn how they are different from existing varieties in the market. Their Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is IWL’s top pick.

Around 20 kms or an hour ahead, is Sula — the biggest, best known vineyard in the country. Their Rasa Shiraz and Brut Rosé are highly recommended. They’ve hosted a lot of visitors already, especially during the annual Sulafest. Grape stomping that’s popular here during the festival, is a gimmick according to IWL, although it adds to the fun.

Across the road is York winery, where Bhasin has even spent a couple of days working. As a result of this, he knows the place very well. IWL will even take people atop the wine tanks, from where they can look down at skins floating on the surface, as red wine is being made. Shiraz Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are the highly rated choices here.

As part of the trail, participants will even receive a bottle of York Shiraz 2008 with their name on it.

First Published: May 04, 2012 19:57 IST