It was a remarkable month for wine. On 12 December, Sula Vineyards came up with an initial public offering of ₹960.35 crore, the first Indian winemaker to do so. It reflects, in a way, the perception and consumption of wine today. Here’s a look at wine trends in India that defined 2022.
I was at a dinner last month and an elegant red wine, which tasted like a French vino, was being served by the glass. The bottle remained a mystery till I enquired. It was the Fratelli MS Red from Maharashtra. “India is making fantastic wines now,” notes beverage professional Gagan Sharma. Most sommeliers have been singing praises of Grover Zampa’s Signet series and Vallonne Vineyards’ Riesling. A few bottles from the Signet series are aged in large 1,000- and 2,000-litre barrels. “The liquid-to-air proportion ages the wine slowly and makes it elegant, compared to ageing it in smaller, 250-litre barrels. Think of it like slow dum-cooked biryani versus pressure-cooked pulao,” explains Sharma.
Indian wines, in fact, offer incredible value for money. Sommelier Abhinay Jhaveri recommends the York H block Chardonnay ( ₹950 in Mumbai) and Vallonne’s Riesling ( ₹1,100 in Mumbai). He shares, “I keep at least three bottles of the Riesling at home. It’s so easy to drink and not bad at all for a Riesling from India.”
RISE OF ROSÉ
Indian wineries have enhanced their rosé portfolio with names like The Source Grenache Rosé from Sula, Grover’s, Art Collection Shiraz Rosé and Vallonne Rosé. Earlier this year, Fratelli launched the canned wine Noi sparkling rosé. Imported bottles, like Portugal’s Mateus Rosé , Italy’s Scaia Rosato and South Africa’s Wolftrap rosé, are a few favourites. The rosé is a wine that complements Indian food, can be enjoyed through the year and exudes a celebratory feeling. “Rosés are the biggest gainers in the last two-three years and their popularity will carry on into 2023,” predicts Sharma.
This micro trend has stirred the curiosity of wine enthusiasts. Natural wines are produced in a biodynamic manner, with grapes hand-picked, no or low use of pesticides, and no preservatives. One category of natural wines is orange (coloured) wines produced by fermenting white grapes with skin. Jhaveri recommends Tears of Vulcan by Day Wines from Oregon, US, as a standout orange wine. The Mumbai restaurant NOON, which has a collection of biodynamic wines, picked a natural wine to make their mulled wine.
Sommelier Gargi Kothari, who runs the wine experience company Magic Cellars in Mumbai, enthusiastically talks about trying “funky-tasting” natural wines from Beaujolais, France.
Every sommelier noticed a marked increase in interest in learning about wines, going beyond region to encompass different styles, lesser- known terroirs and grape varietals. Earlier this month, Kothari hosted a wine tasting of Pinot Noir from regions like Burgundy, France, California, US, New Zealand, Austria and Chile. “The curiosity to learn about wines is at an all-time high,” she says.
This year, I considered signing up for the level 1 course of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offered by the Sonal Holland Wine Academy in Mumbai. I am not the only one interested in a wine education. A friend suggested registering for it together in January. Learning—and drinking more wine—sounds like a good plan to start the new year.
Also read | How to train your wine palate
The story was modified on December 31 to reflect corrections in quote credits.