“Trust me, the taste of a glass of wine is not nearly as interesting as understanding its genesis,” says Manish Dalal, managing director, Asia Pacific, Endurance International Group. It’s been 20 years now since the not-much-into-alcohol young Indian man was introduced to the fascinating world of wines by his boss, while working at a Californian consultancy.
“My boss was a wine afficianado,” he remembers, adding, “He used to host wine-tasting sessions several times a year, where he would let us taste the drinks he collected during his trips to different countries. He would tell us everything about it, right from the kind of grapes used, historical significance, culture and even about the family that makes it.”
Wines across the globe have a deep connection to the culture and cuisine of the place of its origin. Dalal, who is also a certified wine sommelier, makes it a point to explore a new region across the globe, once every 18 months. It is difficult to pick the best, he says, adding that one’s preference in wine is very subjective. But, on insistence, he says, “Personally, two of the best wines I have tried were in the Burgundy region of France and Piedmont region of Northwest Italy. Both of these regions have many districts within, each with their own variety of wine.”
He adds, “Burgundy’s red wine made from pinot noir grapes have a beautiful taste. These grapes have been cultivated in this region for hundreds of years. The wine compliments its cuisine very well. In fact, for some dishes, the meat is marinated with the wine. They also use chardonnay white wine for cooking chicken and fish.”
Dalal met the families owning vineyards in these regions to know all about their process and history of their wines. “You can see their passion for wine-making when they speak about their vineyards and the legacies of their families,” he says.
Barolo wine from Piedmont too finds a special mention on his list. “The drink has a floral smell and a certain amount of acidity which compliments the sauces the locals use. Ingredients such as olive oil and garlic are often used in them; while the dishes have a lot of butter and cream,” he says.
Dalal’s treasure trove of knowledge can be found in bits and pieces on Vivino app, where he regularly shares his stories. Here, he and other community members post reviews too. Apart from that, he personally introduces his friends and colleagues to wines, and hopes to have a blog someday, which will detail his journeys along with photos.
Interestingly, Dalal advises against storing wine bottles in home cellars. He says, “It is not just about space constraints in a city like Mumbai, each wine bottle would need special care and optimum temperature. We have to also ensure that their corks don’t get dried. This can be professionally done at places such as Taj and Masque, where they can ready cold and dark storage places.” He would know, as a member of Taj Chambers and a regular participant in events organised by All Things Nice, a wine and spirits consulting and marketing agency.