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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Saturday, August 16 2008. 11:14

Blog: Wine is Not Tipple

It is well known that it causes me mental agony when people refer to wine as sharaab. I have written and argued that wine is not sharaab, which historically refers to liquor- distilled spirits that have an alcohol content of over 40%. Traditionally, sharaab also has slight negative connotation not usually known to be associated with wine which is simply a lifestyle, food related product, I believe.

I also abhor people referring wine lover as a wino. This term is used explicitly for an indigent wine-drinking alcoholic. The dictionary also defines it as an informal slang for a destitute person who habitually drinks cheap wine. A wino is a chronic drinker, a person who drinks alcohol to excess habitually. There is not much of a disagreement on the use of this word except for rare ignoramuses.

Another term I hate to see being used for wine is 'tipple' and a wine drinker as a tippler. I rather think it insinuates 'engaging in drinking alcoholic liquor, especially habitually or to excess'- as defined by the Chambers Dictionary which is rather generous in defining the verb as 'to drink alcohol regularly, especially in small quantities.' There is no mention of wine but only alcohol or alcoholic liquor.

Oxford dictionary in an all-encompassing  canvass defines it merely as an informal word for an alcoholic drink. Some of the other usages are alcoholic beverage, alcoholic drink, booze, hooch, intoxicant, liqueur, and stimulant. Weber defines it as serving of drink (usually alcoholic) drawn from a keg- which is related to beer. It even talks of 'tippling the cognac.'

Did I miss reading wine anywhere? No doubt, most spirit drinkers and some wine drinkers will claim that wine is also alcohol. But I always say that wine is not alcohol-it has alcohol, of course, but only to give flavour. And, of course, if misused and drunk in large quantities wine can make a wino out of you. But in essence, it is well-contained, taken with food.

I am neither a purist nor a wine snob. But I would avoid using the word 'tipple' for wine.

What do you say?


Tasting Notes

Here are some of the wines-no tipple, I shared with a few friends who dropped in at my residence for dinner a couple of days ago. These are not available yet in the Indian market. But you may contact the producers directly or ask me for any info if I can help.

1.  Ruah Fiano Salento IGT 2007 Santi Dimitri
Type: White                                        Alc:  13.5%
Region: Galatina (town), Lecce (province), Salento (sub- region), Puglia (region),
Grapes: 100% Fiano
Description: Bright straw yellow with shades of green. Very clean and pleasantly aromatic, this wine had a ring of individual personality about it. Made from autochthonous grape generally found in the neighbouring Campania where Fiano di Avellino makes a DOCG wine, this IGT wine uses grapes from the Salento region. A balanced and harmonic wine with fresh acidity, which made it go down fast as an aperitif, though I missed it with vegetarian fare later. Served best at a chilled 10° C.


2.  Animae Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOC 2006 Perlage

Type:  Sparkling Brut              Alc:  11.5%
Region:  Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Veneto
Grapes: Prosecco
Description: The first impression while uncorking the bottle is that it is a sulphite free wine made by bio-dynamic process. Actually, the producers, Perlage who have been certified organic producers for over a couple of decades, are totally into biodynamical wine as the owners strongly believe in the ecological balance of the soil they are working on.

The mousse on the opening of the bottle is the next to impress. The bubbles are tiny and large in numbers, working in unison to push out of the bottle, reminding one of a good quality bottle-fermented Champagne. But one sees the real beauty only when nosing the bubbly. The pure, clean floral aromas have peaches in the background. The tiny bubbles tingle the tongue as the dry and crispy wine seduces the palate before going down the gullet, still leaving its imprints. Serve the dry and crisp wine chilled at 8-10° C.


3.Barbera Oltrepò Pavese DOC 2005 Albani

Type:  Red                                          Alc: 14%
Region: Lombardia
Grapes: 90% Barbera, 10% others
Description: Made organically this Piemontese grape gives a wine which is lighter than its piedmontese cousin. Quite well balanced with soft tannins, pleasant and persistent taste in the mouth. After-taste is not very long. Best at 16° this wine will hold for more than 5 years due to the contact it has had with oak which stays in the background during tasting, making it an easy quaff.

We tried this wine with Indian food. It went surprisingly well with the vegetarian as well as chicken dishes made with thick curry, due to soft tannins and slightly acidity in the backbone. Even though alcohol is slightly high, it did not feel too hot a wine,

A very easy drinking wine that can be drunk with a wide spectrum of dishes. It can age for 5-7 years yet when it will start getting more complex.



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