Today , 2 May 2003
French Wine For The Price Of Orange Juice
Sourish Bhattacharyya

---The Delhi Wine Club met at the Metropolitan Hotel Niko for wine and Japanese food and some surprising prices.

WELL, ALMOST! Effective immediately, a glass of wines (5 glasses to a bottle compared to 6 as a norm in some places in India and abroad a glass of wine will cost Rs.150, slightly more than a glass of orange juice). The hotel announced this at the Delhi Wine Club dinner at their Sakura Restaurant recently. Talking to the members, Mr. Kono, the new dynamic General Manager of the hotel agreed that wine is a lifestyle drink and should be available at affordable prices . Of course, continuation of the scheme would depend upon how many customers take advantage of the offer. Wine cannot be left in an open bottle for more than a few hours. Wine left overnight would go off and become non-saleable. Regular wine by the bottle will continue to be sold at the usual high rates till the customs duties come down or a new Exim Policy allowing the hotels restricted import of duty free wine falls into place.

Suppliers are also being persuaded to give special discounts for the Wine-of-the-Month Concept the hotel has just announced. Don't expect a First Growth or even a Tenth Growth (under Bordeaux Classification there are only Five Growths followed by Cru Bourgeois) but you won't be disappointed with some of the Italian IGTs, French VDPs or Chilean or even Californian wines that could be in the pipeline.

Wine with Kaiseki was a 5-course Japanese meal including starters, appetizers, soup, tempura and a sushi platter paired with different wines. Prosecco Spumante as a starter was very refreshing with lots of nose and bubbles. Presenting this wine, Raffaele Langella, a member and Commercial Counselor at the Italian Embassy explained that most Italian wine evenings started with a Prosecco. Japanese Fusion starters   were  served   with Villa Antinori Bianco IT Toscana 2000 a combination of Chardonnay and Trebbiano, a popular and inexpensive yet fruity Italian grape used generously in Italian wines.

Japanese food is not the easiest in the world to match with wine. Dry whites like Chablis and Riesling go quite well with most dishes and soft reds do justice to Tempura or Sushi with mild wazabi sauce. No wonder Chablis St. Martin 2001 from Domaine Laroche and Riesling 2000 from Hugel et Fils of Alsace were the most popular wines served with cold potato soup and prawn tempura dishes following the starters.

The real Find of the evening was the South of France Merlot 2000 from Michele Laroche. It was dark cherry red, medium to heavy bodied, slightly tannic, and very fruity with a taste of cherries and chocolate, certainly more robust than one is used to from the Right Bank of Bordeaux. It also paired well with Sushi rolls of Salmon salad, rolled with vinegared rice in dry seaweed paper. In fact, we also tried the same dish with Joseph Faiveley 2000 Burgundy. Though twice as expensive, it failed to impress. Vintage 2000 wasn't a very good year for Burgundy and it showed in the colour, texture, and fruit and in fact, all its components. It also turned out to be much lighter-bodied than the previous Merlot thus not giving its delicate lineage much chance to show off. If Sanjay Menon of Sansula Exports who flew from Mumbai especially for this wine tasting dinner can read the members' comments, he is already sitting on the computer jacking up the price of this simple yet elegant Merlot by a hefty margin. (He would of course, reduce the price of the Burgundy by an equal amount).

The author is the President of the Delhi Wine Club and can be reached at for queries




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