In India, the tradition of wine consumption has been long in the making. Now, with an evolved taste in fine wine, Indians are demanding that the current market bring their offerings up to the par of their expectations. And the key players have responded with panache. The biggest wineries, including Sula and Soma, are now running elaborate , with vineyard tours, a glimpse into the wine cellars, and guided wine tasting. These are exciting times for wine lovers in India. If you want to dip your feet in these brimming waters, here’s a checklist for you to go through to make sure you have a blast at your next wine tour:
1. Consider the time of the year
It is important to keep in mind the time of the year you’re planning your visit. For most wineries, summer and fall are the busiest periods. So, if that’s when you’re visiting, start early to avoid the afternoon rush. Or plan for fall and winter, when the crowds dry up.
2. Do your research
You’d agree when we say that it’s important to be a bit initiated into wines, grapes, and wineries before you head out on a wine tour. Taste some wines, read up on the different types of grapes used and the kind of flavour they impart to the wine (full, light or medium bodied), and understand your own tastes and preferences in wines. Also, learn about the offerings of different wineries in the region you’re visiting and plan accordingly.
3. Have an answer to the question,“What wine do you like?”
At a wine tasting session, it’s imperative to be open to all the options available for tasting. At the same time, be informed enough to have an honest answer for when the person behind the bar asks,“So, what wine do you like?” It’s alright, actually better, if your answer isn’t something like “Sauvignon Blanc, 20 years vintage, with notes of oak.” An honest reply that goes “I like full-bodied red wines, but I’m open to everything” would be enough to tell the bartender of your preferences and allow him to help you have a fruitful tasting session.
4. Plan your itinerary in advance
Study the locations, the opening hours and the products of the different wines in the area. And plan out your day accordingly. Trust us, this is some sage wisdom coming straight from some self-declared, slightly-experienced wine aficionados.
5. Ask questions
Feel free to ask questions. Ask about the nature of the wine. Ask about the grapes used. Ask about the ageing. Ask about the wood of the casks it is stored in. Unless the bartender is a grumpy octagenarian, he/she will take this as an encouraging sign and appreciate your genuine interest, serving you better.
6. Use all your senses
This statement entails all there is to know about wine tasting. Use your sight, smell, taste and even memory to paint an accurate picture of the wine at hnd. Once you’re handed a glass, swirl it a little and take in its colour. Then, draw it closer, and take a long whiff of the aroma, observing the main fragrances and the gentle hidden notes of wood etc that accompany. Then take a sip and swirl it around to let the taste and the aftertastes take ground. Once you’re done with that long tasty sip, jog your memory and compare it with other similar wines you’ve had. In a span of minutes, you’ll feel like a full-blooded wine connoisseur.
This is partly a health advisory and partly a tasting necessity. The many sips and drags of wine will leave you dehydrated, so sip water after each different wine. This will flush all the taste of the previous wine from your palate and also rehydrate you, avoiding that painful hangover the next morning.
8. Don’t feel pressured to buy
Agreed that you’re in somebody’s office or, if it’s a small winery, their home, tasting their products. That doesn’t obligate you to buy a bottle from them. In most cases, you can always order the same from your home or buy it from a good liquor shop nearby. This isn’t a binding statement though, If you really like something, don’t let us stop you. We don’t want the blame for somebody missing out on a good wine.
9. Carry a box, designate a driver
If you have a long day planned ahead of you, chances are you’re going to end up a little tipsy. Let’s be honest, unless you’re intentionally holding back, you may be well sloshed. So, either avail the services of a local tour company or designate a driver to drag your intoxicated self back to wherever it is you’re staying.
Also, it may be a good idea to carry a wine chiller, or a nice box to keep the bottles you’re going to buy. You don’t want them clanging together, potentially breaking and definitely creating nuisance.
10. Remember, it won’t taste as well at home
The ambience of a wine tasting room, with a nice pedantic gentleman guiding you as you chug on glass after glass of the finest wine, with the wine cellars and the vineyards probably close by, is an experience on it’s own. Keep in mind that it may not taste as well in the confines of your own living room. Sorry, for this downer, but it’s better to know than to regret.
Also try: The best local liquor of India.