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Delhi Wine Club
IGT Terre Siciliane: Wines to match Spice in the Market

Posted: Tuesday, 05 January 2016 18:34


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IGT Terre Siciliane: Wines to match Spice in the Market

Jan 05: The wine dinner at Gulati Spice Market was a tryst with Sicilian wines for most invitees who had a lot of fun matching the four IGT Terre Siciliane wines- Perlé di Ginestra Moscato, Antiche Vie Syrah, Antiche Vie Nero d’Avola and Morogó Nero d’Avola with several Indian dishes and who came out swearing by some of the combinations while enjoying them on their own, writes Subhash Arora who had organised the import and clearance of wines for different groups of wine lovers, the Delhi Wine Club members and their guests being one such group

Photos By:: Adil Arora

Click For Large ViewIndian food is considered difficult, if not impossible to withstand the onslaught of wines unless there is a fair matching, especially because of sauces, curries, texture due to onions, coconut, yogurt raita and several other ingredients. At the same time, it is important to ensure that wines are compatible with the food, if one has to imbibe wine as a part of the Indian gastronomy. Gulati Spice Market is well known and established Delhi restaurant known for its North Indian cuisine, thanks to Chef- owner Chiquita Gulati and her restaurateur husband Sumit Gulati who is an avid wine buff, ever willing to experiment with wines to match with Indian dishes. Therefore, when I proposed that we have a wine dinner with wines from Sicily, he could not resist the mystique of ‘Siciliane’ and agreed to host for around 30-35 people with Puleo IGT Terre Siciliane wines which I had organised for tasting and had them cleared through the customs after insurmountable difficulties. 

Sicilia in my heart

Sicilian wines hold a special place in my heart and Sciacca where the Puleo winery is located and  even more so as it was one of the first Sicilian cities I have ever visited. When I was in Sicily in 2010 to attend the ante-prima, there was a raging debate on whether DOC Sicily status should be granted to the wines of Sicily. In fact, I attended a Conference in Sciacca where around 25-30 producers had congregated to debated the issue under the moderator Prof Attilio Scienza, Prof. of Viticulture at the University of Milan. It was clear then that 2011 would see the birth of DOC and the new appellation of IGT Terre Siciliane.

Italy's largest vineyard (25,708 square kms. area), Sicily is divided into 9 provinces - Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani. It has the highest acreage of vineyards, covering 164,500 hA of which only 21,000 hA are registered in 22 DOC Appellations with one DOCG for red wine, Cerasuolo di Vittoria which got upgraded in 2005.

Sicily-a Sea of Wine

Appellation IGT Terre Siciliane

Click For Large ViewIGT Terre Siciliane as a regional appellation that was introduced in November 2011. It replaced Sicilia IGT which was promoted as Sicilia DOC. Terre Siciliane translates literally as lands of Sicily and I remember being told that it was a part of Sicilian territory in the south west with Sciacca as the capital. Terre Siciliane IGT wines can be made in any style- red, white, rosé, still, sparkling, dry or sweet. The grapes must be sourced from within Sicily and its satellite islands using one of the recognised 24 white varieties and 22 reds-including the wines tasted today- Moscato, Syrah and Nero d’Avola.

Wines of the evening

Four wines were poured for tasting and pairing with different snacks served in plenty by the enthusiastic Sumit Gulati’s team. Deviating from our traditional structured 5-course meal for the evening, we decided to pour all 4 wines and let the food-wine match game begin with different foods served as snacks followed by the planned Menu.

The chicken snack  that was really an Amuse Bouche was a perfect match for the Perlé de Ginestra Moscato Bianco which was off dry, medium bodied wine with a slight touch of tiny bubbles that is a hallmark of many wine producers in South Italy to make them slightly tangy. It was quite tropical in flavours and was mainstay for the first part that had Chettinad Spiced Grilled River Sole tamed by the slight sweetness. However, Dahi kebab was not worthy of the wine (or vice-versa because on its own the kebab was lazawaab-(delicious), bringing out once again that yogurt based products were not the best match for wine, even with white wines. Interestingly, the accompanying Crusted Asparagus though slightly over-salted went beautifully with the slightly-sweet wine.

Bhuna Kukda (chicken) was finger-smacking delicious and soft but did not make the perfect partner either with Moscato or the next wine, Antiche Vie Syrah 2013 which was medium-bodied and very easy drinking even on its own. But when we asked for a repeat of the mutton Galouti kebab, it was like a marriage made in heaven. It was difficult to decide whether the keeme served with garlic naan as a snack earlier, came very close. Mushroom Galouti went very well with the wine too.

Patila gosht was served with tandoori roti of which other variants were available including the missi roti. The dish found the Antiche Vie Nero d’Avola 2014 a bit too stringent -the combo didn’t taste as delicious as one would expect as a classic combination. But the real surprise was Morogó Nero d’Avola 2012 which on its own had a lovely balance with flavours of cherries and strawberries-I felt a touch of even pomegranate in it. The wine had good structure and homogeneity with medium length. Like the earlier Nero, it had Click For Large Viewfloral and perfumed aromas that were very engaging. But it made an absolutely perfect partner for the kathal ki nihari (the meaty vegetarian dish made from jack fruit). The two tangoed together in the mouth with perfection. Undoubtedly, this was the most admired combination in the evening.

Since we were on an experimental discovery, we tried the wines with paneer sish and also a special preparation of baingan (aubergine). The aubergine Parmigiana di Melanzane (aubergine) goes well with several medium bodied red wines and we thought of trying their recipe as well which was quite delicious on its own but refused to move with wine in the mouth.

Everyone loved the wines and wanted to know where they could buy them. They were disappointed when informed that it was only a wine tasting evening and that their feedback especially about the white Moscato and the red Morogó would be very useful for the sponsors of the wine, who were keen to know how these wines fared with Indian palates. Decidedly quite well, though the reactions with different dishes varied with many of them being excellent where an equal number performed poorly as a combination-despite the food being extremely delicious on its own. The service was also impeccable for a stand-alone restaurant. Yet one more time the GSM restaurant earned kudos from the invited guests.

Subhash Arora

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