June 25: A couple of years back I had predicted that the sales of rose sparkling and still wines will grow at a faster pace than ever before in our country.
My prediction was based on two assumptions: one was the inexplicable rise in the sale of bubbly in UK in the previous three years. And our post-Independence history shows our enormous appetite for aping the West, especially the UK, on matters of style. Sales of pink champagne have been heading north in the UK, so can we be far behind? I'd also theorised that a rose, whether it's sparkling or still, goes better with Indian food and being light, it's a refreshing drink for the Indian climate.
It looks like I was wrong. Pink champagne sales haven't gone up significantly. This I can explain easily. The ordinary NV Champagne is available in India, after paying duty, for the equivalent US$25-40; the rose equivalent is available for at least twice that amount. And we are not ready to pay that kind of money even for a fashionable thing. But the consumption of rose wine has also not kept up with the growth in wine consumption.
Abhay Kewadkar, VP-Wine Maker of Grover Vineyards, says the consumption of rose has gone up only by 15% compared, compared with the 20% rise in total wine sales during the last three years.
One reason could be that we still treat it as a ladies' drink. Besides, serious wine drinkers do try to be a bit snobbish about this wine. Yes, a rose is made from red grapes only, but with very little maceration and contact with the skins to get the colour and the resultant tannins, but the complexity of a red wine is never possible.
But a rose can be a great wine to order in a restaurant as an aperitif, especially in summer, or even with light food, including pasta with a red meat sauce or pepperoni pizza. They are generally reasonable and affordable wines. Today's recommended wine is a highly refreshing example. At Rs1,200 a bottle at Olive Bar & Kitchen, this wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon by Valdivieso, the Chilean winery that has given us the amazing Caballo Loco Nos. 1-7, is cheaper than all its offerings available in India. It's has a brilliant and appetising hue and a nose of strawberries.
The flavour is that of ripe fruits and the acidity is crisp enough to make you feel like drinking more. Very full, it leaves a refreshing flavour on your palate, in spite of its slightly high alcohol content of 13.5%. You may feel the tannins slightly if you are drinking without food, but it does not make your mouth pucker.
A fairly dry (under 5 gm of residual sugar/litre) and simple wine, you can afford to order it liberally, letting it accompany you through the meal. Vegetarians will enjoy the wine with Arancini, the Sicilian golden-fried rice balls with a gooey mozzarella centre, and Ricotta cheese. A simple yet best value-for-money wine anywhere, especially at Olive, it's also on the wine lists of Diva and Ego Thai.
Serve it chilled at 10 -12 degrees. It should not be as chilled as, say, a sparkler or a light-bodied wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio so that you can enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon flavour too.
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