Live well

The basics of wine that you were too shy to ask about

It may be touted as the drink of the Gods, but wine doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it’s made out to be. It’s actually quite simple, really. While there’s much ado about wine etiquette, at the heart of it, it’s all about pleasure. At a wine tasting evening recently hosted by Business France, we met with Sommelier Samuël Bernard, who spoke to us about all things wine. So, whether you’re at a tasting or ordering wine at a restaurant while entertaining guests, here’s what you need to know.

By Shweta Vepa Vyas

The changing wine culture in India

Wine culture is certainly new in India. Earlier, it was all about drinking whisky, eating and then hitting the bed. People now understand that drinking while eating is much nicer. While whisky has no place at the table while eating, wine is the perfect accompaniment for food. If you take time to understand food, it’s fitting that you should take time to understand wine.

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The basics while selecting a wine
Wine is all about taste and so you should go with your instinct. You need to taste different types of wines made from different grapes and from different regions. Go with something that suits your palate. How will you know what’s best without trying? Of course, there are classic pairings, but really, it’s about personal taste. So, taste as much as you can and you will finally find something you really like.

Things to keep in mind while tasting wine
Remember, wine is all about pleasure. Just like you see and smell your food, wine also has to be experienced. So don’t get bogged down by the rules; just try to understand and enjoy the wine.

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Advice for ordering wine at a restaurant
Currently, I find that the palate of Indians is about over saturated wines, big tannins and big and bold red wines. But these don’t pair well with Indian food. You should enjoy light, red wines from regions like Burgundy and Beaujolais. If you enjoy white wine, go for something like a buttery Chardonnay or a Riesling with a little bit of sugar in it. It is very easy to start, understand and love wines with these.

Classic wine and food pairings
I believe that rules are meant to be broken! But some of the basics of wine are these—everything that is acidic and light like the whites and light reds go with white meat and fish. Dishes that use thick sauces and gravies generally go well with a buttery Chardonnay. If you’re going with big tannins, you need meat or say tomato sauce to match the intensity.

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Pairing wine with Indian food
Beaujolais, Burgundy, light reds or sugary white—these go best with Indian food.

The right temperature for storing wine
Storage is certainly a problem for someone who wants to buy 10-12 bottles of wine and keep them at home. It really is a challenge if you don’t want to invest in a proper wine refrigerator. Wine should never be stored at more at 22 degrees. If you are serious about your wine, you need to invest in a wine fridge.

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The world’s most luxurious wines
The Tuscans, Burgundy and Champagne are some of the most expensive and sought after.

Favourite wine
It depends on the mood. Right now, I would love a Champagne or a crisp white. If it’s a little bit colder outside, I enjoy a crisp Beaujolais. If I’m eating meat, I’d love to go with a whole Bordeaux. There’s nothing like the perfect wine—it depends on the occasion and your personal taste. The perfect wine is that which fits in beautifully with the situation.

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