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Updated: May 30, 2014 19:14 IST

Grape to glass to food

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Micheal Swamy during the launch of “Easy Guide to Pairing Indian Food and Wine”.
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Micheal Swamy during the launch of “Easy Guide to Pairing Indian Food and Wine”.

Michael Swamy demystifies the world of wine for the masses by pairing them with various Indian dishes

Wine enthusiast, chef and food designer Michael Swamy has teamed up with Seagram’s Nine Hills’ to bring out a book that offers a capsule look at a combination that’s both unusual and largely ignored, but immensely enjoyable. In “Easy Guide to Pairing Indian Food and Wine” (Om Books International), you’ll find chapters on classification of wines, information on major Indian wine varieties, and tips on wine assessment. Filled with some classic recipes from various cuisines in India, the book also offers suggestion on pairing specific recipes with particular wines in a way that aims to enhance your enjoyment of both.

Excerpts from an interview:

A little about the conception of the book and joining hands with Nine Hills?

The book is an idea that grew when I did a workshop with Nine Hills. We decided to go beyond just the usual pairing of food with wine. One of the most daunting things in the F&B world is pairing Indian food with wine, given the complex flavours. I had been experimenting for a long time and the book came about at the same time that I came close to cracking the code. So, I decided to share the knowledge with other food lovers and wine enthusiasts. This is where Nine Hills stepped in, as their range of wines goes especially well with Indian food. Also, we took things yet another step further by incorporating wine in the food itself.

The book offers a comprehensive look at wines; understanding them, recognizing them, pairing them with food. It’s a capsule of information. Tell us a little about putting this together and also

What were the essentials you felt must go into the book?

The book is the first of a series of six with Pernod and Om Books. Since this was the first, I thought why not begin with demystifying wine for the general public? After all, wine has become the “in” thing on the social dining circuit. So I decided to start from the beginning — from understanding the nuances of wine, right from the grape to the glass, defining flavours and textures, clarifying the terms dry wines, semi dry wines and sweet wines. Once I got through those, I thought of including pairing and cooking as well. The book was born from the idea that people should get the complete package and value for money. There were tons of information and years of research and experimentation. I was lucky to have my friend Rita D’Souza to guide and help me in selecting what should go into the book and how to simplify things further.

The idea of involving wine, both pairing it and cooking with it, opens up the Indian palatepalette?

Experimenting is what it is all about, whether it’s pairing or cooking. The more you experiment and taste, the more your palate opens up and becomes sensitive to finer flavours and textures. That’s why I’ve included recipes using wine, the recipes are simple and use wine in a simple way too. This will help people learn things and enjoy wine in a much wider way. The Indian palate has always been open to new flavours and I hope that my book takes that pleasure forward.

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