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Updated: February 9, 2010 16:35 IST

Pair dare

NIKHIL VARMA
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"Indians do not like to eat food when they drink, be it wine or any other drink. This is different from Europe, where drinking and eating is a tradition. I feel that this is the reason that many people are apprehensive about pairing wine with Indian food," says Jean Manuel Jacquinot, a renowned winemaker, who is involved in crafting the Nine Hills reserve from the hills of Nasik.

Jean Manuel Jacquinot sees a change in how Indians perceive wine. “Indians do not like to eat food when they drink, be it wine or any other drink. This is different from Europe, where drinking and eating is a tradition. I feel that this is the reason that many people are apprehensive about pairing wine with Indian food,” says Jean, a renowned winemaker, who is involved in crafting the Nine Hills reserve from the hills of Nasik.

“Wine is a new entrant in the Indian market. It is gaining a lot of popularity. Vineyards are coming up across the country.”

India boasts many regions with temperate climates, where wine grapes can thrive. “The hills of Nasik and Nandi hills in Karnataka are excellent places for growing wine grapes. These regions receive adequate rainfall, the soil has good moisture levels and the climate is suited for growing great wine. It will take some time, but the Indian wine industry has the potential to make a major impact on the international wine industry.”

With the spectre of global warming hanging on the planet, Jean feels the wine industry too would be affected. “Wine is a commodity that can change with even minor changes to climatic conditions. The increase in global temperatures has resulted in alterations in the taste of wine in some parts of France, but the situation is under control.”

He adds, “When pairing food and wine, a lot of discussion also goes into ensuring that the wines and the food bring out their unique tastes on to the palate. If the wine cancels out the taste of the food or vica versa, the pairing loses its purpose. They should complement each other well. We have discovered that, contrary to popular belief, Indian food, especially tandoor preparations such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, go very well with wine.”

Like most other connoisseurs of wine, Jean does not like to pick out a favourite. “It is very difficult to pin point any particular wine as a top favourite. Wine tastes depend on many factors, including the food you eat with the wine. I have felt that white wines go well with lighter food, while red wines are better suited for spicier dishes. Desserts must be independent. Pairing a wine with any dessert would be disastrous.”

Jean contends that as awareness about wine spreads and they are easily available across the country, particularly in the metros, wines are becoming popular.

What makes good wine? “The quality of grapes is paramount. All other factors such as climate, the air pressure etc. does not matter much.”

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