When you think of a fine wine, India isn’t the first country to come to mind, is it? Sure, spicy, fragrant food, haggling in markets for trinkets and visiting the Taj Majal would be high on any tourists’ list, but you probably wouldn’t expect to indulge in some fine Indian wine.
Over the last handful of years, India has seen a small, but surprising explosion in the number of wineries throughout the country. The area of Nasik in India is known for it’s grapes and some of the wineries that have set up there buy grapes from local farmers, sustaining them.
India is ripe for the wine production, as many Indians are upwardly mobile and can afford to purchase wine on a regular basis. This has led to wine tastings, clubs and even wine dinners.
Indian wineries are not without challenges though. The calendar is turned upside down. Grapes are pruned in September and picked in February and March to avoid the heat and monsoon season.
White wines like sauvignon blancs, and chenin blancs, are good complements for vegetarian dishes like bhindi masala, (okra) or saag paneer (cheesy spincach).Reds can hold their own against dishes seasoned with cumin, mustard seed, fenugreek and other musky flavors. They pair very well with items prepared in the tandoor oven.
Don’t expect to find many Indian wines outside of the country though. Almost all the wine produced there is consumed there. Maybe it has to do with the slightly different taste of smoky earthiness that isn’t present in the red wine us Westerners are used to. One thing’s for sure, it is a nice match for the spicy foods it is served alongside.