Wine enthusiasts were in for a treat on Monday, May 2, when Sommelier India Wine magazine organised a special Riesling tasting at the residence of the German Ambassador. Sommelier India Publisher and Editor Reva Singh pulled off a coup of sorts by managing to get as many as 16 superb German Rieslings direct from Frankfurt for an exclusive tasting, writes Soni Sangwan. Pictured left: Wine connoisseurs at the Riesling tasting
The wines were a gift from Reva’s art dealer friend, Peter Femfert, who lives and works in Frankfurt but has a passion for wine and owns Nittardi vineyards in Tuscany. “Peter and I discovered a shared love for Riesling and when he offered to send me some samples of the wine, I was expecting at the most two bottles. Imagine my surprise when he said that he had two cases waiting to be dispatched to India! Apparently, he had spoken to his friends who produce some of the best Rieslings and they all sent two bottles each – the result, these wonderful wines, that are here today for us taste,” said Reva while introducing the wines.
But before the wines reached India, a lot of back channel diplomacy had to come into play as the Indian laws for importing wine are complex. One needs an import license and there are innumerable duties ad taxes to pay. “This Master Class would not have been possible,” adds Reva, “without the assistance of the German Embassy through whom I was able to import the wines.”
Pictured above: Bottles of wine from the SI Riesling Master Class
The German Ambassador to India, Thomas Matussek and Mrs Matussek, very graciously offered their home to co-host the wine tasting, thus ensuring that the wines could come into the country minus some of the excise hassles, and be properly presented for tasting before an expanded version of the Sommelier India Tasting Panel.
“Promoting wines in India is an uphill task. And this has nothing to do with the quality of the wines. Rather, it is because of the bureaucracy, the rules and the regulations. That is why it is important to organise events like these so that we can spread the message of Riesling and perhaps persuade the excise department to be kinder so that more wine lovers in India have the choice of drinking Riesling,” said Ambassador Matussek while thanking Reva and Sommelier India for being such good friends of German wines. Pictured above: HE Ambassador Thomas Matussek and Reva Singh: a toast to Riesling
Harshal Shah from the SI Tasting Panel then took the select gathering of wine lovers, sommeliers, importers and journalists through the Master Class tasting. Harshal had designed the tasting into three segments – one of five wines and two of four wines each –according to geographical distribution.
“A general misconception is that Rieslings are sweet, syrupy and boring. That is not the case,” said Harshal at the beginning of the tasting. And by the end of the Master Class, everyone understood better why Jancis Robinson, the internationally renowned wine expert and journalist (who also writes a column for Sommelier India) says that Riesling is the greatest grape in the world. Left: Harshal Shah pictured with some of the Rieslings tasted
By the end of the one-and-a-half hour session, we went home, feeling as wine tasters would say, ‘morish’ – wanting more of the wonderful wines we had just sampled.
SI June-July 2011 has more photos and details of the Riesling Tasting. Subscribe now to read about the event in the next issue.