With so many friends and family visiting the motherland from around the world, it’s essential to have a great bottle of wine on hand to match the occasion. From celebratory sparklers and classic reds to zesty whites or refreshing rosés, these are my picks. Indian or international, each wine offers a different taste and a special experience. A variation of this piece was first published in the Indian Express, Chennai.
Champagne or other sparkling wine is an important standby in your wine chiller at this time. If it’s champagne, I’d choose an elegant fizz such as Louis Roederer Cristal. It’s not cheap, but then this is the time to splurge. Importer: Brindco Limited. The UB Group’s Bouvet Ladubay’s Brut is produced in the Loire Valley with Chenin Blanc grapes and is a less expensive alternative, while Sula’s newly launched Brut Rosé, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Zinfandel grapes, is a lovely pink sparkler that is eminently affordable.
Dr Loosen Riesling 2008: Rieslings from the Mosel region in Germany are a great favourite of mine. Ernst (Ernie) Loosen is one Germany’s leading winemakers and has pioneered this beautiful off-dry Mosel, sliver-pale, a nose of summer flowers and a hint of peaches with natural acidity to lift the finish. Importer: Brindco Limited. (Or Eroica Riesling, which is a collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Loosen. Named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the wine was inspired by Old World German winemaking but its personality is uniquely Washington State.)
Torres Vina Esmeralda 2009 Spain’s Torres is known primarily for its intense red wines, but it also produces this deliciously fruity and palatable white wine that is an aromatic blend of Moscatel and Gewürztraminer. Importer: Prestige Wines and Spirits
Grover’s Viognier Clairette or the Sula Dindori Viognier are my choices from the Indian whites. Originally from the Rhône Valley, the Viognier grape varietal has adapted well to a warm climate. A dry white, it has a smooth mouth feel with low acidity and floral aromas and an off-dry, slightly sweet finish.
Anakena’s Carmenere Chile’s signature red grape, Carmenere shows a softness on the palate with gentle tannins similar to a Merlot, for which it was long mistaken. It is a juicy, fruit-forward, red without a lot of astringent tannins – since tannins accentuate the heat from chillies – Carmenere is ideal with spicy dishes. Importer: High Spirits
My current favourite red for the party season is Grenache, often described with the three ‘V’s’, versatile, velvety and voluptuous. And Châteauneuf-du-Pape from France is my choice for the party season, a Grenache based blend with soft tannins and the right balance of juicy fruit and acidity make it the perfect partner for rich food.
Reveilo Reserve Shiraz 2006 comes well recommended among the Indian reds. Steven Spurrier put it best in his column in Sommelier India when he described it as an excellent expression of spicy fruitiness and vineyard depth.
— SI team