I believe that tasting wine in itself is an adventure that deepens your appreciation both for wines as well as the winemakers. Look, smell, taste – when combined together gives you the strength to go on to judge a wine and to carry on the basic sensory examination. These basic senses enable us to go on to be pro wine tasters. We need to be in the perfect tasting environment and need to keep in mind that we can smell several unique scents, but our taste perception is limited to salty, sweet, sour and bitter only.
It is the ultimate combination of smell and taste that allows us to discern a flavor. To start with, we should all be aware of the ‘5S for tasting’, they are:
1) Sight – That is basically the sight of the wine to determine the color and clarity. The glass should be about one-third full. Now we follow these steps to evaluate the wine visually – Straight Angle View, where we look straight down into the glass, then we hold the glass to the light, and give it a tilt, so the wine rolls toward its edges. This allows us to see the wine’s complete color range, not just the dark center. Then we have the Side View where we view through the side of the glass held against light showing how clear the wine is. Lastly we check out the Tilted View where we tilt the glass so the wine thins out toward the rim providing clues about the wine’s age and weight.
2) Swirl – To get the wine spread and mix along we give the glass a good swirl, which will enable it to open up and we can breathe it in. After the swirl the wine forms the tears that runs down he sides of the glass. Wines that have good tears are wines with more alcohol and glycerin content, which indicates that they are riper, more mouth-filling and dense.
3) Smell – Once the swirl is done we go ahead to smell the wine to evaluate it by a sniff, whether it is fruity/ Savory/ dairy/ nutty/ spicy/ mineral/ woody/ floral/ herbal, etc. There can be several aroma contents in a glass of wine; to an individual it can smell like anything. But we need to determine the basic smells.
4) Sip – The most important step when the wine comes in direct contact with our taste buds. It lets us determine the flavor and body of the wine. We need to take a sip, not a large swallow of wine. Then we should try sucking on it as if pulling it through a straw. This aerates the wine and circulates it throughout our mouth. We’ll encounter a wide range of fruit, flower, herb, mineral, barrel and other flavors. If we’ve done our sniffing homework, most will follow right along where the aromas left off. Aside from simply identifying flavors, we are also using our taste buds to determine if the wine is balanced, harmonious, complex, evolved, and complete.
5) Spit – This is the last step and it is optional. You may choose to spit out the wine after tasting it for better wine understanding.
Now let’s come to this Wine Tasting session which I attended lately, that was organized by Sula. As we know, Sula Vineyards was founded by Rajeev Samant in 1998. In consultation with Kerry Damskey, a Californian winemaker, Samant went on to setup the first winery in the Nashik region of India. And Sula was then named after Rajeev’s mother – ‘Sulabha’. Today, the Nashik region is known as the ‘Wine Capital of India’ and is home to over 50 wineries. Sula is certainly India’s no.1 wine producer and I was honored to be one of the invited bloggers at the Sula Wine Tasting event that was held at Raya, Pipal Tree Hotel (near Chinar Park, Kolkata). It was an educative and informative session on wine tasting, drinking and wine etiquette.
Now here at this session we tasted four varieties of Sula wine, punctuated by taste breakers and awesome fish fingers along with tarter dip.
Anyway, here are the details about the wines that we had tasted at this event –
SULA BRUT TROPICALE
In 2000, Sula sold its first bottle – India’s first Sauvignon Blanc, and has since put the country on the global wine map. To mark the amazing first 15 years, Sula released its beautiful limited edition festive season bottle on 25th October, 2015. Covered in paisley in riotous tropical colors, the limited edition Brut Tropicale is a Blanc de Noirs, a white méthode champenoise sparkler made from premium black grapes including Pinot Noir.
The paisley motif – symbolic of life and eternity – has been interpreted and adopted as a quintessential part of the various cultures of India, spanning Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Today, the motif prevails in special occasions, ranging from henna patterns, ethnic fabrics, jewellery and such, emphasizing that most celebrations begin and end with paisley. The design on the bottle marks the festivities and culture of India. The unveiling of the limited edition Brut Tropicale happened at the 15th-anniversary party, which took place on the 25th October, Sunday at Asilo, Mumbai.
As said earlier, this limited edition Méthode Champenoise sparkler is crafted from mainly Pinot Noir, alongside Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, adding to the complexity and richness. Bottle aged on its lees for 18 months, these beautiful pale-coral bubbly bursts of passion fruit and peachy aromas, with a prolonged finish of red berries on the palate. It is overall very watery and light and the wine does not stay back in your mouth once you gulp it down.
Sula’s Riesling is an elegant wine with low acidity and hint of sweetness while you are about to finish. It is a fruity and aromatic non-sparkling wine with hints of green apples, grapefruit, peach & honey. Best enjoyed nicely chilled, Riesling is a versatile wine for pairing with food, because of its balance of sugar and acidity. Pairs well with Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine. Tastes best when served chilled.
Sula Riesling is India’s first ever Riesling! It won awards like:
a) Gold Medal – Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards 2013 & 2014
b) Bronze Medal – Global Riesling Masters 2014 (UK)
c) Bronze Medal – Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2012 (HK)
d) Silver Medal – Sommelier India Wine Competition 2009.
SULA DINDORI RESERVE SHIRAZ
Dindori is a town in Nashik district in Maharashtra and is known for its grape farming. Dindori Reserve Shiraz Grown on the red hills of our Dindori estate and barrel-aged in American oak.
Sula’s Dindori Reserve Shiraz is a powerful, intense wine, with flavors of berries and vanilla and a long pleasing finish. Pairs beautifully with meat dishes like mutton biryani, seekh kebabs and lamb roast. We should serve it slightly chilled. Allow to breathe before serving.
Dindori Reserve Shiraz was ranked #25 in the Top 100 Wines of 2014 by WINE ENTHUSIAST magazine with 93 points – the first ever Indian wine to make the list, a singular honor from one of the world’s leading wine magazines.
SULA LATE HARVEST CHENIN BLANC
No doubt this was the Wine of the day. Abounding with aromas of mango, honey and tropical fruit, this award winning Late Harvest Chenin Blanc is the perfect close to a delicious meal, but is also an elegant aperitif to stimulate the appetite.
It is available in half bottles only and is perfect with fruit and nut platters, desserts, cheeses, cakes, cookies and pies. It is India’s first ever Late Harvest Chenin Blanc!
It won the Gold Medal – Indian Wine Consumer’s Choice Awards 2012, 2013 & 2014 and India’s best white wine in India Wine Challenge 2008.
Without a whiff of doubt, I liked the SULA LATE HARVEST CHENIN BLANC the most, followed by the SULA BRUT TROPICALE.
Firmly committed to remaining at the forefront of Indian wines, Sula continues to experiment with new varietals, engage in sustainable agriculture and support the local rural economy. In the last 15 years, Sula Vineyards has also been a pioneer in India’s wine tourism opening the country’s first winery Tasting Room in 2005 and first vineyard resort, Beyond by Sula, in 2007. With 200,000 visitors in 2014, Sula is one of the most visited wineries in the world and the #1 spot where Indians first taste wine.
Sula’s award winning wines are available nationwide at the finest hotels and restaurants, and are also exported worldwide. Sula works with the sustainability motto – grow good wine with minimal environmental impact, and to achieve that it undertakes practices like Drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, use of solar energy, etc.
|Receiving the SULA Wine tasting certificate from Soham Poddar (Tasting & Marketing, Sula Vineyards)
As consumers, we have surely been a part of Sula’s success and its progress in global wine market but most of us were unaware of many facts about wine and wine tasting, which for me was a massive learning experience at this session. And not to forget, I was pleased to receive the certificate from Sula for attending this wine tasting and appreciation session, that meant a lot, really! Would love to attend more such sessions in future and spread the word about wine tasting techniques and Sula to my fellow readers. Hope you liked reading this post!