Five wines to die for

A number of international wines are now available in India. Here are five of the very best chosen by one of India’s most talked about wine journalists.

Print Edition: June 1, 2008

When BT More’s Editor asked me to recommend the best international wines in the domestic market, I felt butterflies in my belly. It’s normally a sensation I don’t associate with wine, but naming my favourite imports may just expose the Philistine in me!

One of my all-time favourites is the Chilean red Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Concha y Toro, which had been rated by the oftquoted English wine magazine, Decanter, as the “best value for money wine in the planet”. This is a plump wine with silky tannins and it is a made-in-heaven match for kadhai chicken and shaami kebab.

Talking about wines that go with Indian food, I must share with you my discovery, at a peppy Sydney restaurant named Zaaffran, of the Australian wine region called Clare Valley and the delightful Rieslings that are made out there. My favourite from Clare Valley is Angove’s Riesling 2005. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s going to have a bottle of wine with Sichuan food or with my favourite versions of chicken tikka—malai, kastoori and haryali.

Now, if I can’t lay my hands on a Clare Valley Riesling, I will happily drink a Domaines Schlumberger Les Princes Abbes Riesling 2005. It’s an elegant dry wine with concentrated fruit that counter-balances the spice in North Indian preparations, and a lingering finish. A respectable wine must never disappear from your palate after you’ve taken a sip.

Some days ago, I had to choose between an entertainmentpacked evening with the Delhi Daredevils and the Royal Challengers, and, of course, the leggy Katrina Kaif and a gentler-paced wine dinner with an executive of Frescobaldi, a leading Italian wine company. I went for the dinner, for we were going to be served two wines that I regard as my favourites—the Pomino Bianco 2006, a crisp white from an elevated part of Tuscany named Pomino, and the Lamaione 1995, a full-bodied red that makes your lamb chops taste that much better.

I cannot consider my list to be complete unless it includes the Masi Amarone Classico 2001 Costasera, which I first had at the winery where it is made and then with Dal Makhni and Mutton Do Pyaaza at Masala Art, the North Indian restaurant at Taj Palace, Delhi. Nothing can be more difficult than rating the top five wines in any category. I don’t claim to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of wines, but I can insist that these are the wines that have made a lasting impression on me. I could have gone on, but my Editor has wisely limited me to the five.

Sourish Bhattacharyya is Executive Editor, Mail Today

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