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India Wine Awards to feature unique Food and Wine Match

Posted: Tuesday, 04 April 2017 11:35


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India Wine Awards to feature unique Food and Wine Match

April 04: India Wine Awards being organised by the co-founders of delWine Excellence Awards in Mumbai at the hospitality partner Hotel Sofitel Mumbai BKC on April 14-15 will also feature for the first time in India, a unique food and wine match competition, writes Subhash Arora one of the three co-founders who has judged at a similar competition at Hong Kong for 7 years and since inception has been the advisor for Indian dishes for the last 3 years, adding a new dish every year

Click For Large ViewAfter a highly successful delWine Excellence Award on 14 September 2016 with the hospitality partner Hotel Pullman Aerocity New Delhi, Cav. Subhash Arora, Sourish Bhattacharyya and Sonal Holland MW, the three co-founders announced joining hands to organise India Wine Awards in Mumbai in April 2017. The objective was to blind taste Indian and imported wines being sold in Mumbai, by a neutral, unbiased and thoroughly professional jury so that the consumer may know of the best wines available in each category-‘uncorking the best’ is their motto.

 Sofitel Mumbai BKC, one of the progressive wine-centric hotels of Mumbai came on board as the hospitality partner. The wines have been categorised at 4 price points each for Indian as well as imported wines. Each sample will vie for a Diamond, Gold or Silver medal, with each category having a Best in Class Wine which will be awarded at the India Wine Awards Winners Dinner on April 22 at the same hotel. Who’s- who of Indian Wine Industry are expected to congregate along with the top hospitality industry invitees, besides discerning wine lovers who would be able to taste not only award winning wines but also other wines showcased by participating producers and importers.

The jury consists of independent wine professionals and also from the hospitality industry, with Sonal Holland MW as the Chair-person and Subhash Arora as the Vice –Chair. Rojita Tiwari, a journalist and blogger with experience of curating and judging at similar International wine competitions is supporting the event as the Technical Director for proper co-ordination, wine storage and service and above all to ensure that the wines are coded and served totally blind with each wine getting a fair chance to showcase itself to the judges. The organisers fully understand the passion and commitment that goes into each bottle and will strive to give their best in the selection through a transparent process.

Food and Wine Match

A key part of the competition is the Food and Wine Match by the jury which will award same medals for the wine samples entered for one or more of the 6 Indian dishes selected by the organisers from different parts of India and curated by the Chefs at Sofitel. Divided equally into vegetarian and non-vegetarian segment of wine drinkers, following dishes have been selected (they will be changed in  future tastings with the objective of helping wine lovers enjoy them with various Indian foods):

Best Wine pairing with Mutton Seekh Kebab
Best Wine pairing with Butter Chicken
Best Wine pairing with Pathrani Fish
Best Wine pairing with Kathal Biryani (V)
Best Wine pairing with Kerala Stew  (V)
Best Wine pairing with Baingan Bharta (V)

Click For Large ViewEach item will be served with chutney/ sauces/ roti/ rice as standard accompaniments and as part of the elements of each dish.


Methodology is very simple.

The producers and importers who wish to participate have been asked to enter a wine label for any of the6 dishes they feel match well. It is unlikely that a producer would have a wine that might be suitable for all dishes.  As an example, the producer may submit a Chardonnay for butter chicken. But he may also feel that the Viognier would also make a lovely match with it.  He could also believe that his Shiraz would be good on the palate with the same dish for many people. He therefore may send  3 wines for the same dish, in which case he sends 6 entries: Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Chardonnay/butter chicken, Viognier/butter chicken and Shiraz/butter chicken.

On the other hand the same producer may wish to enter his Shiraz with Biryani, Bhartha, Mutton Seekh Kebab and Vegetable Stew. In this case he will send 6 bottles and 5 samples- one for the stand alone category and 4 for the food and wine category.

 Most international competitions require 3-6 samples for each label for various legitimate reasons but keeping the high cost of wines in mind, especially the imported wines, India Wine Awards has asked for only 2 samples for each label and additionally only one bottle for each dish for the inaugural edition. The extra bottle would be used in case the first sample is rejected by the jury for any fault or doubts. If the same defect is seen in the second bottle also, the entry will be rejected.

Tasting food and wine

Each judge will be served a requisite portion of the dish in front of him. There will be a flight of wines consisting of all the samples submitted for that dish (a different coding would be given for each entry by the team of Technical Director.) The jury member will divide the dish served to him/her in smaller portions in a way that all the elements of the dish would be put in the mouth together. For instance, if it is a baingan ka bhartha match, each morsel would have one or two pieces of the pea also in the mouth, if it is a part of the dish. The kebab served with chutney would require each piece to be dipped in it. If the dish is served with a roti/rice, a small portion would also be added as an element.

 After taking all the elements in the morsel, the composite portion will be taken into the mouth, followed by a medium sized sip of wine so that both are chewed together in the mouth, taking precaution not to swallow the food or wine. The objective is to see how compatible they are on the palate, keeping in mind if there is any synergy or a clash of flavours and unpleasantness in the mouth, like added bitterness or amplification of spices to an undesirable level. Both the chewed morsel and the wine are then spitted out together, even though it is an unpleasant sight in the spittoon. Based on the perception of the combination, points are given for the whole experience, thus awarding any one or none of the three medals deserved by the combination.

It is important to understand that the wine is not being judged for the quality on its own-it should be  clean and pleasant wine and quaffable on its own. For instance an ordinary Indian off dry Chenin Blanc may go very well with a vegetarian dish like Kerala Stew, bagging a Gold Medal or even a Diamond whereas a fine Barolo may not even get a medal with this vegetarian dish.

The purpose of the food and wine match competition is to encourage people to think of wine as a beverage that performs better with food that is properly matched. Despite the classical matches, it is quite common to come across a match that is completely unthinkable though most classical matches find a favour with the professional jury. It is also the objective of this segment to encourage people to drink wine with Indian food.

Click For Large ViewEach wine would be entitled to the award for the particular food and wine matching category in which it is entered.  But the medal awarded would carry the same weight and importance.

The essence of the Indian Wine Awards and the buzz it has created so far is encapsulated very well by Sonal Holland MW who says, ‘we are drawing great excitement and pleasure as we build a world-class competition that will judge, recognise and celebrate the best of the wines, both Indian and International, available in Mumbai. It is the first-ever wine competition in the country with an Indian food and wine pairing element that will allow wine brands to market themselves as food-compatible in a country that is known for its culinary heritage and excellence.’

She further adds, ‘As is essential to this process, we are inviting the industry's best palates as judges and maintaining utmost integrity of process and results. India Wine Awards results will offer the Indian consumer the ultimate guide to purchasing wine, and the winning wines, an enviable advantage in the marketplace.’

Results in both the wine and food and wine match category will be announced at the India Wine Awards Winners night Dinner at 6 pm on April 22 at the Sofitel Bombay BKC. Tickets for the event at an All-inclusive special price of Rs. 2500 can be purchased online.

Subhash Arora

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