The Good Life

The ultimate guide to Indian wines

Peter Csizmadia-Honigh travelled far and wide to explore the wines of India

Wine making is not new to our country and there is certainly no dearth of Indian wines. But, if you’re just as perplexed about which ones to order to suit your palette or your dish, you’re not alone. In fact, your problem might soon have a solution.

London-based writer and wine professional Peter Csizmadia-Honigh has been travelling to India for the past nine years for work. During his trips, he realised that there was more wine in the country, but very little information about it. He says, “There are hardly websites or publications to inform people about the same. The websites of wineries have generic information about the wines and that is when I decided to fill that gap in the market.”

A frequent traveller and wine enthusiast, Csizmadia-Honigh is a graduate from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary and Budapest Business School. A certified sherry educator who crafts Juhfark wines for Michelin-star restaurants and the co-proprietor of Royal Somló Vineyards, Peter was responsible for the Institute of Masters of Wine's study and examination programmes in Europe, North America and Australasia between 2005 and 2014.

Csizmadia-Honigh is the first international writer to write an illustrated book on Indian wines, The Wines of India. The 452-page guide is a wine lover's indispensable companion to explore Indian wines and the inaugural edition features 50 producers and nearly 400 wines from all over India. The book also features a classification of Indian wines, a list of recommended wines by Peter, the authors’ recommendation with brief tasting notes, detailed producer profiles, commissioned maps and a glossary of wine terms.

One thing he finds interesting about our wine-making process is that we harvest our grapes just before the temperatures are about to rise as opposed to France and Australia where they harvest the grapes before winter. He says, “Most importantly, I think what works for Indian wines is the generosity of the fruit itself. It lends a lot of the aroma and character to the wine and it’s quite characteristic of Indian wines, really.”

Despite his extensive knowledge, he found two “opposing facts” very surprising about the wineries in India. Says Csizmadia-Honigh, “I knew there would be good wines. But, I didn’t know or expect the scale, breadth and width that the manufacturers are going to, in order to ensure that their product is well done. Their experimentation has crossed boundaries and it is fascinating to see that. On the other hand, I also see that some have got it terribly wrong. They are not doing a lot of things right and it’s quite disappointing. I was delighted to meet young winemakers who have gone out and observed the art of wine-making across the world and absorbed the information like sponges.”

He counts Sula, Four Seasons Winery and wine from around Bengaluru (Grover’s Vineyard) and Gujarat among some of the best in the country. He adds, “In terms of categories, India makes a lovely Sauvignon Blanc and Cherin Blanc. The latter, however, is something that a lot of makers have also gone horribly wrong with. In red wines, quite a few are getting it right. There are some lean, elegant ones that are quite interesting so far.”

He foresees India as the emerging wine country in Asia and says, “I look forward to working with partners to make an impact and bring Indian wines into the glasses of Indian consumers so they know the stories behind the labels.”