What I Drink: Jug Suraiya

Jug Suriya, bemoans the lack of a genuine wine culture in India

In 2005, we asked wine aficionado, Jug Suraiya, which wines he drinks. Columnist, travel writer and author, Suraiya lives in Gurgaon with his wife Bunny. Ten years on, we posed the same question to him. Although his awareness and knowledge of wine has grown exponentially, his response was essentially the same. He simply loves wine! Wine is a daily staple of the Suraiya dinner table, with Australian Shiraz, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon and Grover’s La Reserve being the preferred choices.  

2005 I am not a wine snob. I know there is red wine, white wine and an in-between wine called rosé which seems to suffer from an identity crisis. In London, I went to Vinopolis, an interactive museum dedicated to the history of wine. A Frenchman called Claude conducted a tasting session. He poured a thimbleful of wine, a Chardonnay, into our glasses. Claude told us to swirl our wine in the glass and observe its colour and clarity. I swirled energetically and observed that some drops sloshed out on to the tabletop. I dabbed them up with my fingers, which I licked. Claude looked reproachful.

Claude asked us to “nose” our wine. We nosed. Someone said it smelled of green tomatoes. Someone said limestone. I said mine smelled of booze. Claude looked resigned. Claude told us to take a sip and draw in our breath sharply to appreciate the “finish”. Shhhhh! We sat there hissing like asthmatic anacondas appreciating the finish.

A couple of hours later, I appreciated the finish again. I’d bought a bottle of supermarket plonk (Cuvee Marks and Sparks) and taken it back to my digs. It seemed I’d hardly opened it before it was empty. Some finish. So, what wine do I like to drink? And the short answer to that is: LOTS. Pop the cork, and never mind Claude.

2015 When it comes to wine, I’m a Casanova: a lover both passionate and promiscuous.

I’ve had a long affair with Malbec, particularly if it comes from Mendoza. This, however, has in no way inhibited me from pleasurably succumbing to the seductions of red-blooded Sangiovese and an occasional liaison with Pinot Noir.

During recent visits to Naples and Sicily I found myself beguiled by the charms, respectively, of Aglianico – the so-called “Barolo of the south”, and at half the price – and Nero d’ Avola. And how could I forget that sultry Spaniard, Tempranillo?  Or that shy, South African wanton, Pinotage?  Merlot? I could not love thee, Merlot, so much loved I not Shiraz more. Time to go to confession for my many infidelities.  Forgive me Robert Parker, for I have sinned…