Welcome to a new world

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Wine aficionados have never had it so nice. Fuelled by an increasing demand from a discerning clientele, we are seeing an increase in the number of quality Indian wineries and wine bars mushrooming across the country, especially in the metro cities, where even retailers are stocking quality wines. Wine lists and

menus are also becoming longer and more exhaustive, while restaurants are investing in well-trained staff and correct infrastructure facilities. All of which has resulted in more wine not only in terms of consumption, but also in terms of varieties.
We’re drinking wines not only from traditional markets like France and Italy, but also from countries like Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia among others. Wines from these countries are known as new world wines, although it’s not like they have just started producing them; for instance, South Africa has been producing wines for over 350 years and Argentina for over 450 years. And they are more than capable of holding their own. Top end Chilean wines are brilliant, while New Zealand makes outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. Argentina has taken the Malbec grape — originally from Cahors in France — to fantastic heights and Aussie Shiraz has a cult following.
These wines are also priced a notch below the ones from old world countries and offer more value. That, in turn, could be because the Euro is an expensive currency, or because the cost of labour and production of wine itself would be cheaper in these countries as compared to the European ones or simply that these wineries are hungrier for market share than their old world counterparts. Also, wine drinkers are always interested in trying different styles and varieties and are looking to discover hidden gems. So naturally one would want to try wines from different regions.
Another factor is that for a new wine drinker, wines from new world countries are far simpler to understand and appreciate. For instance, the grape varietal is mentioned on the bottle label. So you know what it is that you’re drinking immediately rather than trying to figure that wines from Chablis are actually your favourite Chardonnays.
Another major new world wine producer is the US. Americans make some of the best wines in the world, especially those grown in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas. But they are often too expensive for most Indian retailers to stock extensively. Washington state, on the other hand, offers unbelievable quality at a better price but most people don’t know about them.
But the success of these new world wines definitely has a lesson in it for Indians to learn from. We should experiment with different grape varieties, bring the prices down wherever possible and make quality wines more accessible to the public. We need to invest more; not just in the wine making itself, but also in creating awareness about these wines. We need more tasting sessions, more consumer engagement activities and more promotional events where people can be introduced to or educated about wines.
The author is a sommelier and
director of All Things Nice.
As told to Aashray Hariharan

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