So what are the wine trends for the next year? Easier to drink, fresher wine, instead of the oaked ones, a growing fascination with local, heritage grape varieties instead of the Merlots and Chardonnays. A huge discussion around soil and how single vineyards translate into taste and finally, possibly, just possibly, the fact that younger consumers across the world may finally be moving away. That hasn't lessened at all in these years, and in India, where the wine culture still continues to be described as "emerging", these solemn games have become much more apparent, most of the times just confusing potential drinkers, who should simply enjoy wine, figure out their own tastes rather than worry about snob values and strict rules of pairing food with wine.
We have always held wine to be an individualistic drink. Most of us drink for pleasure, not as a motorsport. What you drink is most determined by your own individual palate as well as the occasion and the company. You can sit with a solemn glass of red with just a friend perhaps and a book or you can party with a versatile sparkling and enjoy both experiences equally.
One of the most interesting discoveries for us has been some of the growers' Champagnes, marked by their incredible freshness, pas-dosage and structure and an aged-in-wood finish. We were lucky to have carried back a bottle. But on the other hand, you may still find enough that you may enjoy from our own home-grown stables.
Here's our list of Indian wines (in no particular order) that you could drink now.
1. Fratelli Gran Cuvee Brut:
Some people prefer Champagne to cava or prosecco because of the longer finish and more complexity that you get in at least some of the non-vintages and certainly in the prestige cuvees. But these are expensive wines and not always accessible. If you would like an Indian sparkling, we would unhesitatingly pick up the Fratelli brut. We like dry wines and Fratelli is as dry and sparkling as you can get in India with a delicate and creamy finish. You can even pair it with cheesy pasta or risotto. Or drink it on its own.
2 . Myra Reserve Shiraz
We met Ajay Shetty, a former banker turned wine entrepreneur and sampled some of the Myra ones. Since then, we have been astonished to see how far they seem to have come. Shiraz is certainly one of the most favourite red varietals, because of its spicy notes that you can feel on the palate. Most (regular, not wine snobs) drinkers of reds in India, we observe, seem to settle for the merlot. Expressions of grapes, of course, differ depending on where in the world (or India) they are coming from. The Myra Reserve Shiraz is oaked and yet it remains fairly easy to drink and elegant. It is generous on the fruit, which most Indians like and is cost-effective too.
3. Krsma Sangiovese
Apart from Shiraz, the other reds people usually end up drinking are the Sangiovese and the Argentinian Malbec. Krsma, a boutique winery near Bangalore by Krishna Prasad and Uma Chigurupati (Krishna has been making wine since he was 17) have some excellent offerings and we like their version of the Sangiovese with its notes of spice and nuts.
4. Charosa Selections Sauvignon Blanc
Some of the smaller, boutique wineries have come up with some very interesting wines in the last decade. Nashik-based Charosa seems to be good with its whites and offers a good Viognier and a great sauvignon blanc, should you be so inclined.
5. Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco
Amongst the offerings from the bigger wineries, wine lovers are quite a fan of what Fratelli is doing. Sangiovese bianco is quite unusual because it is a white wine made from red grapes (only two other wineries do this apparently in the world). It has a structure that comes from a red but is still light and crisp.
6. Grover Zampa La Reserva
For the longest, this has been quite rightly held to be the best Indian red. People like it for its red ripe and spicy aromas - naturally with the shiraz in the blend (cab sauv-shiraz). The tasting proved the consistency of our palate. If you share the same taste, this may be the wine for you too.