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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, January 06 2010. 14:50

Blog: Wine and Wealth, Health and Happiness with a Gaja

This year’s New Year Greetings to our readers from delWine were well thought out and apt- wishing you all plenty of wine and wealth, health and happiness in 2010.

Relationship between wine and health is a lot similar to that between wealth and happiness. It is fairly well accepted by now that moderate consumption of wine on a regular basis is good for the heart and most other limbs of the body. (It certainly does not help bad back and I still suffer a stiff back even after two months of moderate wine intake!).

In fact, wine is anti-aging if you read, absorb and accept the findings of the book on the subject by Dr. Richard Baxter, a doctor from Seattle whom I had invited as a special guest to a dinner organised by the Delhi Wine Club- his book, the second updated edition of which was released in November last year and is available at will be reviewed in the next edition.

Wealth is good for happiness.-  at least to the extent that you have a nice home, car, money for kids’ education and a good bank balance for travels and retirement. It enables you to drink plenty of fine wine-in moderation and as a lifestyle product, helping you keep healthy too. Like wine, too much of wealth has its problems and many philosophical and psychological experts would agree that it can bring unhappiness as well. Naturally, it is not easy to quantify happiness, or establish the J-curve for the wealth- happiness relationship like for wine and blood pressure, heart attacks, longevity etc.

Of course, wealth also may not have anti-aging benefits except perhaps through resveratrol capsules made from the chemicals found in red wine (women who use anti-aging cream and are satisfied or have undergone plastic surgery from Dr. Baxter or other plastic surgeons may excuse me- we are not talking of cosmetic anti-aging).

Wine is ideally to be enjoyed with friends- fine wines with good friends who know good wine. It also helps make friends as much as it helps you think beyond the millions and billions. New Year is a good time to be a bit sentimental and one can venture to say that wealth can also be measured by the number of really good friends one has.

So let me wish you again plenty of wine, health, wealth and through all of these factors- a lot of happiness in 2010… and beyond.

Wine Tasted in 2009-10: Gaja in Goa

Talking of good wine with good friends and feeling happy, we were sitting by the poolside at the Beleza by the Beach- the latest, boutique villa resort property that adorns the necklace of South Goa beach. The resort is owned by my very good friends, Radhika and Ajay Bahl- a successful corporate lawyer who could perhaps own a vineyard next to my other good friend Angelo Gaja whose Darmagi 1999 we uncorked together on this New Year’s eve,  but chose to build the 30-room villas instead, ostensibly to see happy faces of vacationers.

Darmagi 1999 is an opulent, full bodied powerful wine from the iconic Angelo Gaja in Piemonte and has all the elegance of Barbaresco terroir. It is expensive enough ($240 street price in the US) to be opened once in a blue moon. Since December 31 was a blue moon (the second full moon in the same month; there are 41 in a century) it was quite appropriate to uncork the bottle with rays of the full shining moon infusing the wine in the glass.

The dark garnet colour wine was almost inky in colour with concentrated bouquet of ripe berry fruit. The juicy tannins were well mellowed by age in the barrique and the bottle in my cellar; the wine was almost chewy with juicy, complex flavours persisting through to the back palate. Its extra-ordinarily long after-taste of almost two minutes impressed me the most. Of course, the wine was very well- balanced and harmonious. The complexity of the layers in the flavour was accentuated in the glass (I wondered if the rays of the moon had something to do with it!) It was really delicious with mutton kebabs.

I believe that the wine in the glass has a history, culture and geography besides viticulture and oenology. I kept thinking whether it was Angelo’s father or grandfather who used to say Darmagi (what a pity!) whenever he saw the signature Nebbiolo grape vineyards uprooted on Angelo’s insistence and substituted with Cabernet Sauvignon and a bit of Cabernet Franc and Merlot-each to be a part of the blend at around 2% each.

It was an interesting thought as we entered 2010 that Gaia, one of the two daughters of Angelo Gaja, who has been working full-time along with his illustrious father for several years now, would be visiting Delhi in a week’s time and perhaps she would clarify it for me.

Frequently, with a wine from a great producer, I also see history in the glass!

Subhash Arora 


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