India has developed a well-rounded wine culture and has even produced some lovely wines. We got experts to take us through their choices for top Indian wines across popular categories, giving you a ready list of what to stock in your home bars this season and for the coming year.
Best Indian red wines
Sula Dindori Shiraz, picked by Shatbhi Basu, owner, STIR – Academy Of Bartending
“It is a very approachable wine, yet nuanced enough even for an evolved palate. I pair it with any deep flavours, from strong cheese to a mushroom omelette, palak paneer to biryani,” says Basu.
Fratelli J’noon, picked by Magandeep Singh, sommelier and wine educator
Singh picked the Fratelli J’noon red for its pedigree, class, and unmatched stately elegance originating from Indian soil. “I will say that a good wine can also be versatile, pairing with anything from samosas and spring rolls to sautéed Chinese greens, shasliks, sirloins, and beyond,” says Singh.
Chene by Grover Zampa, picked by Ajit Balgi, wine and spirit educator, and founder, The Happy High Bartending Academy & Wine School
The Chene by Grover Zampa is a boisterous red that has won many accolades. “Chene means oak in French and this wine sees 15 months of French oak and exudes balanced oakiness and bold yet structured tannins. I prefer this post-dinner with some hard cheese. But don’t rush. Decanting for 30 minutes helps the wine to showcase its full potential,” says Balgi.
KRSMA Syrah 2017, picked by Ruma Singh, wine journalist, writer, and oenophile
Made from fairly young vines grown in their Hampi Hills estate, this is KRSMA’s second vintage. “The schist-rich soils and the KRSMA team’s careful vinification has created a young beauty of a wine,” says Singh. “It shows juicy black fruit and the characteristic pepper notes of Syrah, softened by ageing 12 months in French oak. Best paired with grilled short ribs or a rib-eye steak, barbecued and braised chicken, lamb tagine, and cheese and grilled mushrooms.”
Fratelli Sette, picked by Lifestyle Asia India
Fratelli Sette is a soulful red wine from the rocky and sandy soils of Fratelli Estates on the banks of Nira river in Akluj, Maharashtra. The maturation in French oak barrels for a year lends this wine a pleasant oaky undertone and a vibrant finish. Some swirling and a little patience coax out balanced flavours of raspberry and black currant. Did someone say pasta dinner?
Best Indian white wines
Sula Sauvignon Blanc, picked by Shatbhi Basu
“This is a fresh and crisp wine that reminds you of an Indian summer – fresh grass and juicy fruit aromas without the sugar. Works beautifully with creamy pasta, reshmi kabab, grilled fish of all kinds, and scrambled eggs on toast!”
Fratelli J’noon, picked by Magandeep Singh
Singh believes it is possibly the most skillfully produced white wine from India.
Sula Chenin Blanc, picked by Ajit Balgi
“This is a wine that pleases most Indian palates, and that hint of sugar in it is great with our cuisine and pairs well with Chicken Tikka or even a Paneer kathi roll.”
Grover Zampa Vijay Amritraj Reserve Collection White 2017, picked by Ruma Singh
“I was there when Kapil Grover and Michel Rolland discussed their big secret; their new plantings of the Viognier grape, a never-before grape for India. I was very happy: I am a huge Condrieu fan. In India, the VA white, as it’s called, delivers on the peach, honey, and floral aromas that the grape is known for. It is soft, well-structured and delicious. Pair it with prawn malai curry, Phad Thai, or grilled chicken served with root vegetables,” says Singh.
Fratelli Sangiovese Bianco, picked by Gaurish Rangnekar, founder, Barmobile and Partner – Toast Bistro & Bar
This crisp and light white wine is just a big glass of happiness. “The lively acidity calls out for some creamy goat cheese or a light seafood dish. The palate is rich and luxurious, and goes a long way to justify the wine’s lofty price tag,” says Rangnekar.
Best Indian dessert wines
Sula late Harvest Chenin Blanc, picked by Shatbhi Basu
“Serve it up with vintage cheddar or parmesan, Christmas cake and spice baked fruits on the side.”
Fratelli Santo or the Reveilo Late Harvest, picked by Magandeep Singh
“These are top-notch, and just right on the acidity-sweetness balance.”
Vallonee Vin De Passerillage, picked by Ajit Balgi
“This wine is complex, balanced, and unctuous, crafted by painstakingly tying bunches of matured grapes in straw huts. The berries are then sun-dried for a month, until they turn into raisins, which are then pressed for wine. One berry yields just about one drop of juice with perfectly balanced sugars and a delicious viscous texture. This delectable wine comes with warm notes of honey, apricot, figs, raisins and mango with crisp acidity. It’s a limited edition, but if you can get hold of a bottle, it’s worth holding onto.” It pairs well with tea cake and goat cheese on toast.
Big Banyan Bellissima 2017, picked by Ruma Singh
“Big Banyan draws out the sweetness of the Muscat grape in this honeyed late harvest wine. It has a good structure and provides a sweet finish to a meal. Pair it with chicken liver pate on sourdough crisps (if you fail to get your hands on foie gras) or with ripe cheese.”
Best Indian sparkling wines
Frizzano Italian Collection, picked by Shatbhi Basu
Basu picked it for its sheer approachability and fun. “These will work with everything in the holidays as it’s about being with family and friends. Out with the bleak and in with a touch of hope and happiness.”
J’noon Sparkling, picked by Magandeep Singh
“It is an exceptionally well-made bubbly and truly world-class.”
Sula Sparkling Shiraz, picked by Ajit Balgi
“This red sparkling is one of its kind in India, and its residual sugar makes it apt for Indian gravies. Best paired with the likes of Mutton Roganjosh and Soya Chaap Masala.”
Grover Zampa Soiree Brut, picked by Ruma Singh
“This is a traditional method vintage sparkling, with second fermentation in the bottle. It has biscuit and brioche, beloved of champagne lovers with some pleasant citrus and ripe apple notes to hold up the fruity end of things. Nice persistent mousse too. Very enjoyable as an aperitif. Pair it with seafood, especially smoked salmon or fresh shellfish. Brie or any other soft cheese. A magic combo (my favourite): Try it with potato crisps – the saltiness is a perfect foil for the bubbles!”
Best Indian rosé
York Zinfandel Rosé, picked by Gaurish Rangnekar
This vibrant and refreshing wine with cherries and raspberry notes is the result of gentle pressing of Zinfandel grapes at cold temperatures. “The best part of this easy-drinking wine is that it can be enjoyed any time of the day or night. It’s perfectly sweet with hardly any acidity. A great choice if you’re torn between a red and white. It blends amazingly well with most foods. I like it chilled, considering our hot and humid weather.”
Reveilo Rosé, picked by Shatbhi Basu
“This wine is fruit-forward and easy on the palate with some sweetness. It, therefore, works with almost any cuisine and flavour.”
Grover Rosé, picked by Magandeep Singh
“It is fresh, crisp, fun, and has lovely hues; definitely a top pick for me.”
Fratelli M/S Rosé, picked by Ajit Balgi
“It works well with a Caesar salad or a peanut masala.”
The Source Grenache Rosé, picked by Ruma Singh
“Sula Vineyards’ experiments with Grenache, a grape ideally suited to India’s hot climate and rosé winemaking has proved itself in this well balanced dry rosé that shows citrus and raspberry notes.”
All images: Courtesy Getty