Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A fine wine experience!

A guide on wines for beginners and wines that enhance the taste of various cuisines

Be it red, white or sparkling, wine has always adorned platters belonging to different cuisines across the globe. Wine is a popular beverage that accompanies and enhances a wide range of European and Mediterranean-style cuisines. And it's not just a beverage, but a flavour agent, as any connoisseur will tell you.

But if you have never tasted wine, how do you go about it? Many city hotels and restaurants have now started suggesting wines with the food that they serve, to make it simple for the novices to choose wines. Chef Chandan Thakur, assistant food and beverage manager, Westin Pune Koregaon Park says, "A beginner needs to start with simple yet exciting wines which have a good bouquet and aroma. In whites, you can start with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Italian pinot Grigio and in reds, one can start with Californian merlots or Australian Shiraz."

The Aromas chain of restaurants too suggests wines with their food on their menu. Sapana Malhotra, senior vice president, Ideal Hospitality Pvt Ltd, says, "We have a total of eight varietals each of red and white wines from Australia, Chile, France, Italy and India." She adds that wines in India change preference as per the season as each wine suits the different ambience around it. "We are trying to put wine on the table as a casual drink and not very complicated to understand, thus making the wine drinking experience a daily and enjoyable affair," she says.

So which wines go well with Indian cuisines and our ever-spicy dishes? Chef Thakur answers, "Indian dishes have a very complex flavour and aroma. Therefore, wines highly eminent in tartness like the Sauvignon Blanc or Australian Shiraz or the young Cotes du Rhone will go well with such dishes." Wines should be served cooler with Indian food as spicy foods taste better with cooler accompaniments. "A White Zinfandel, which is a pink wine and sweet makes a good marriage with paneer tikkas, reshmi kebabs and tandoori breads," he says. Sparkling wines too go well with Indian food. So, having champagne with your Indian meal isn't a bad idea.

Chef Thakur says that the wines that are served accompanying Indian food should have alcohol above 12 percent. "With desserts like rasmalai, wines such as a sweet Muscat or rich Semillon goes well," he says. With so many types of 'suggestion ready' wines, it won't be difficult for beginners to explore them and have a great meal.

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