I've been mulling over writing this for a while now. How do I write without coming across as that smug idiot who's done a couple of wine courses? Well, truth be told, I did take those two certifications, so I can be a little smug about it. And along the way, I can help you navigate the world of non-snob, drinkable wines without making a fool of yourself.
Wine has been the realm of the posh in our country for a while now. We have actually now got access to a semi-decent variety of wine. The consumption has gone up and the consumers are now better informed about what they want to drink. Also the number of wine professionals are on the rise, with the hospitality industry taking its wine very seriously now.
I had an amazing teacher take me and several others on the journey of wine. He had fantastic stories to tell, and told them with passion. And you could feel his love for vino in every word. With that, my own journey into the world of wine began, and I've only scratched the surface.
There are tools and applications that allow you to photograph a label and get the lowdown on any wine. But there is so much of romance in uncorking a bottle, having the smells seduce you and forging your own relationship with it. An app can't do that for you.
So, with that thirst for the perfect tryst, I did my own reading and research and made little cheat sheets. Something we can all use as a quick referral. And a few rules and etiquettes.
Wines are all served at different temperatures. Bubbly ones 6-8 degrees celsius. Whites generally at 10-12 degrees. Reds at 16-18 degrees.
We live in a hot country so we shove all the wines in the same fridge and serve mindlessly at the same temperature. Personally there are few things as hateful as an over cooled glass of red. Ever tried to eat a cold cinnamon stick or frozen blackberries? Then don't do it please!
Please allow a wine some time to aerate. Not all wines can be guzzled straight from the bottle. Certain heavy reds need decanting. Cabernets usually upto an hour and you will actually be able to tell bouquets. Heavy reds like Barolos need upto 4 hours.
And wine glasses!! My dear people, not every wine can be served in every glass. Reds have a wide bowl that allow the wines to aerate, whites with a narrower bowl. Champagne is strictly in flutes. And try not to hold the bowl, just the stem. The heat from you hand can also effect the temperature.
Yes, wine is such a delicate thing. Crafted by some guy somewhere in the world who is putting his heart and soul into creating the perfect product. It requires a certain alchemy to achieve what they do. Like my teacher said, it's the easiest way to turn from a billionaire into a millionaire.
Ok, now we are ready to taste. But we don't have to do the dramatic process of swirl, sip, swish and spit. Dial it down a notch.
There are a couple of broad things you look for in the taste of a wine:
Sweetness, the first taste you can tell.
Acidity, it's what makes your mouth water. High acidity wines tend to be crisper, medium acidity are soft. They tend to be cooler climate wines.
Tannins, the things that make your mouth feel dry, like you need a glass of water. Its what comes from the skin of the grapes and the oak barrels in which they are kept. They tend to be hotter climate wines.
Body, or the weight of the wine. Attributed to the alcohol content of the wine and contributing to the 'size' of the wine, being full bodied, medium or light.
A light wine tends to have a texture like skim milk. A medium wine like whole milk. A full wine like heavy cream.
Now lets talk about what we are eating it with.
General rule of thumb we tend to use is that heavier the food, darker the wine. Which would mean that for most Indian foods, specially red meat and heavy preparations we would pair with reds. Acidic foods do well with acidic wine. Sweet food with sweet wine. But then again, every persons palate is so unique that sometimes rules go flying out of the window.
There are many many grapes to explore. Many tastes, aromas and conclusions to be drawn from the wonders a glass of wine holds. The subtle and slow seduction held by that glass of vino is unparalleled. Every bottle is a window into a different part of the world and every grape an illustration of the hands behind the mastery that's bottled.
And best of all, your own journey in a bottle. So let's get exploring! Happy Drinking!!
P.S. I'll be writing another piece soon on my favourite grapes and the magic in each!