India’s wine history dates back to as early as our Vedas, there is mention of meat and ‘wine’ being served at the wedding of Lord Shiva with Parvati. There is a record of wine in Rig Veda, described as Soma Rasa (juice from the vines). Lord Indra apparently loved a wine-like beverage. Chanakya, the wise and wily Prime Minister of King Chandragupta Maurya in the 4th millennium BC, has also described about nobles indulging in activities like drinking an intoxicating beverage made from the fermentation of grapes.
The Indus valley civilisation, dating back to the Vedic period, with 13th – century-BC also show historical accounts of wine production in India where scripts reveal that the Aryan tribes found great pleasure in indulging in wine.
During the Mughal period, as a result of the Islamic Law against alcohol consumption, wine production saw a decline however, the Portuguese brought in Port wine to Goa.
The British encouraged grape growing for wine production once again. But once Victorian era drew to a close, wine found itself taking a backstage.
The contemporary wine Culture of India started around the 1970’s and today country sees an impressive rise in wine production and sale. Mumbai is said to be India’s largest wine consumption market, Delhi has a higher consumption of international wines over domestic wines. Bangalore and Pune are growing markets for both domestic and international wines. Consumers in these two cities have high awareness and consumption of various wine styles, and a willingness to pay higher price points, pointing to a rapidly emerging wine culture.
On my recent visit to The Lalit Bangalore, for the International Wine Day, I had the opportunity to taste many Indian Wines and I have to say, we have come a long way and some of the Indian Wines are truly worth a try.
My favourite was the Noi, by Fratelli Wines.
The Sparkling wine aroma is what first captures you. The tropical fruit, like a bouquet of flowers on a bright summers day is what will fill your nose. But it is the palate that will really impress you, well at least it did me. Noi is a vibrant and fresh Sparkling wine with oodles of flavour and character, a perfect Sunday brunch wine or a summer sundowner drink.
The one that truly made a mark on my palate was SETTE, again by Fratelli wines.
Is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon from the rocky and sandy soils of Fratelli estate owned vineyards located on the right bank of the Nira River in Akluj, Maharashtra. Sangiovese provides essence with distinct raspberry and violet notes and a vibrant acidity, while Cabernet Sauvignon with its blackcurrant notes provides the backbone to SETTE, giving it a fruity character and an elegant structure ageing in French oak barrels for 14 months, merges the pleasant notes of wood with the wine, adding a balanced vanilla flavour silky tannins and a vibrant finish. Decanting it for 20-30 minutes makes it all the more pleasurable. Pairs well with, Rogan Josh, Handi Gosht, Veg Kolapuri, Osso Buco, Cassoulet, Hard Cheeses.
Below is a list of the other Wines I tried and would definitely recommend:
Nestled in the hills along the back roads of the Nandi Valley, SDU Winery is just 75 km away from Bangalore city. After successfully establishing the winery, Shambhavi realized quality is achieved when every detail is perfected. She then brought in veteran winemaker from Italy, Andrea Valentinuzzi, to make it all work seamlessly. The team extends their winemaking philosophies to the creation of all their wine brands from the first one, ‘Deva’ in 2013.
The inception of SDU Winery’s portfolio was with this joyous, energetic & youthful brand called “DEVA” which resonate the intention of our director, in making a simple wine that would allow nascent wine aficionados to venture into the habit of drinking wine. These wines are very young as they are vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks, retaining the freshness of the fruit and then bottled. These wines are not subjected to oak maturation in order to keep its simplicity making it best for everyday drinking.
Syrah has a high percentage of whole berry fermentation which gives it layers of complexity. This simple wine stands apart for its velvety soft tannins and smooth finish.
Nuanced with the hints of fruity fragrances, this red wine is marked by its well-defined body and smooth tannins revealing a lingering finish. The zeal and expertise is the essence of every single bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The versatile Chenin Blanc is a crisp, off-dry white wine and is marked by aromas of citrus and fresh tropical fruits. It’s a true reflection of the homegrown grapes at SDU’s boutique winery and the skills of our veteran Italian winemaker.
This brand doesn’t need an introduction really, Since the sale of its first bottle of wine in 1999, Sula has made a mark in the Indian wine industry by capturing 65% of the wine market and establishing itself as a pioneer.
Blanc de Noirs is a blend of 70% reds and 30% whites, wherein Pinot Noir is major, followed by Syrah and some Chenin and Chardonnay adding to the complexity and richness. Bottle aged on its lees for 18 months, this beautiful pale-coral bubbly bursts of passion fruit and peachy aromas, with a prolonged finish of red berries on the palate.
Serve well chilled.
Late Harvest Chenin Blanc
Abounding with aromas of mango, honey and tropical fruit, our award winning Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is the perfect close to a delicious meal, but is also an elegant aperitif. Available in half bottles only. Perfect with fruit and nut platters, desserts, cheeses, cakes, cookies and pies. Serve well chilled.
*India’s first ever Late Harvest Chenin Blanc!