What I Drink: Brenda McSweeney

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Brenda Gael McSweeney first became acquainted with wine when she spent two years in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar studying at the Political Science Institute. She later embarked on an international career with the United Nations and led the development work of the UN Agencies in India as UN Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme Resident Representative from 1998 to 2003. Now back in Boston, she enjoys introducing Indian wines to her professor colleagues at Boston and Brandeis Universities.

“One of my all-time favourite wines is Grover’s Cabernet Sauvignon, and if I want to go slightly upscale, it’s Grover’s La Reserve. I served it once to a Frenchman in Delhi, who was a wine connoisseur, and he mistook it for 1990 Bordeaux!


Visiting an old friend recently in New York and watching her open a bottle of red wine, I was intrigued by the label. I was so excited when I picked up the bottle, and discovered it was ‘Made in India’! It was a Sula that my friend didn’t even know was a product of India. Now I’m delighted to be able to serve Sula here in the States as well.
On hot days I like to serve a red wine chilled, such as a Sancerre or a Saumur. The Loire Valley reds chill well. My personal preference is Syrah, sometimes also called Shiraz. It’s dry and full-bodied. I enjoy a
glass of red wine with friends as an aperitif or with a lovely meal.”

Know your wine

France produces more fine wines than any other country in the world. Because of its emphasis on geography and place of origin, most French wines are known by their geographic names like Sancerre and Anjou-Saumur in the Loire Valley rather than by the names of the grape varieties from which they are made. According to wine experts wines like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, both made from the sauvignon blanc grape have set the world standard for that grape.
With a cool, northern climate, the Loire is one of France’s larger wine regions, about two-thirds the size of Bordeaux. Loire wines are very diverse, ranging from dry still wines to snappy, sparkling wines and elegant, long-lived sweet wines. In the US the main Loire wines available in wine stores are white, but in Parisian bistros and wine bars, the reds and rosés are very popular – served slightly chilled with everything from roast chicken to onion soup. The red wines of Anjou-Saumur are made from cabernet franc or cabernet sauvignon grapes or a blend of the two and should be aged at least a year, say the experts. Called Syrah in France from where the grape originates, Shiraz is the leading grape variety in Australia and its wines are exceedingly popular. With its rich berry taste and seductive aromas, it has helped turn Australia into one of the world’s top wine producing countries.

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