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Wine and Indian Cuisine


rks
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Pairing wine and Indian cuisine is something I want to get a better understanding of. Nowadays, in planning a restaurant it's a prerequisite to have a strong wine menu to match the concept.

What types of wines complement the intense flavors of Indian food best?

What should a diner consider when choosing a wine to drink if the menu consisted of dosas? briyanis? an accopaniment to an achars? chaats? indian desserts?

Hopefully, some of the wine-expert egulleters will chime in on how to pair the two! :biggrin:

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I really find it depends on what you are eating

With grilled meats or dry curries, go for something with a bit of spice and pepperiness like a Ribero Del Duero or a Rioja. Also Some Shiraz and some South African pinotage work quite well

With ligher curries and vegetarian dishes I like to have a reisling or a gewurtz which compliment excellently.

S

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Rks,

There are rules, regulations and guidelines but it always boils down to personal likes and what is fashionable.

Even though sweeter and fruitier wines like Chenin Blancs, Fume Blancs, Gewertsramariners, Reislings etc. go well with spicy foods and look wonderful on a restaurant menu you will find that your Chards sell the most. Same with your Cabs and Merlots.

However here is an interesting link to wine pairing.

Wine Pairing

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Nowadays, in planning a restaurant it's a prerequisite to have a strong wine menu to match the concept.

What types of wines complement the intense flavors of Indian food best?

Interesting and I am glad some one starts to take this point serious. It's about time to give full effort towards wine in Indian restaurants and matching and pairing. I am blessed to have a full time wine sommelier and a general manager (Raju) who is totally passionated on wines and pairing wines with any kind of Indian food given to him.

Given my passion towards food, I would love to talk about it myself on wines , but I much rather wait for return of the expert Raju who is actually visiting India mourning to his dad's death. He should be back within next ten days. As soon as he is back I shall have him dictate few highlights and I shall post it.

Together we have built a pretty good cellar and we have lot of wines not in our list but for those guests who understand. Please feel free to look at our website for menu and wine list thali.com .

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  • 2 weeks later...
Nowadays, in planning a restaurant it's a prerequisite to have a strong wine menu to match the concept.

What types of wines complement the intense flavors of Indian food best?

Interesting and I am glad some one starts to take this point serious. It's about time to give full effort towards wine in Indian restaurants and matching and pairing. I am blessed to have a full time wine sommelier and a general manager (Raju) who is totally passionated on wines and pairing wines with any kind of Indian food given to him.

Given my passion towards food, I would love to talk about it myself on wines , but I much rather wait for return of the expert Raju who is actually visiting India mourning to his dad's death. He should be back within next ten days. As soon as he is back I shall have him dictate few highlights and I shall post it.

Together we have built a pretty good cellar and we have lot of wines not in our list but for those guests who understand. Please feel free to look at our website for menu and wine list thali.com .

Here we go.

To pair Indian cuisine and wine depends on personal flavors and tastes. Due to spices and herbs one has to use wines which have balance in acidity and fruityness.

As all the appetizers and main courses in Indian cuisine are blended with variety of spices and sauces the ideal white wines are as follows:

a) German Reislings, Kabinett and Spatlese which can be picked also in Halbtrocken and Trocken.

b) Alsatian varietals can be very complimenting grapes like: Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris.

c) Australian grape called Gruner Veltiner is very good with Indian spices and sauces.

d) Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, South Africa, California and Loire vally (Sancerre and Poully Fume) can be very interseting. Also Semillon grapes from Australia matches the spices and herbs.

e) Rhone varietals grapes blend very much with the Indian cuisine, Condrieu (Vognier grape) and Chateanef de Pape Blanc.

A big ripe powerful Red Wine will compliment the Indian Sauces and Tandoori grilled items. Bright, juicy, spicy and fruity reds can give more depth to the Indian Cuisine.

Rhone varietals are more focused for Indian Cuisine.

Grapes with Shiraz and Granache:

a) France: Hermitage, Croze-Hermitage, Cornas, Cote-Rotie, Gigondas and Chateaunef du-pape.

b) Also Shiraz and Grenache from Australia are the best value wines for spices and herbs. These wines are fruit forward with spices and leather.

c) American Red Zinfandels are very interesting with spices and sauces.

Hope this shall answer some of your questions. :wub:

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Very impressed, truly I am. I've always felt confined in Indian food/wine pairing, you have now made me think out of the box...case? :biggrin:

A Viognier has just been introduced here in Bombay and I liked it the first time, methinks I'll get some more. It reminded me of a Gruner Veltiner, though I've never had an australian GV.

Compliments to you and your sommellier.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Thanks P2, this is a great survey of varietals and regions from which to develop an Indian-friendly wine menu. At Thali does Raju suggest any unique, non-traditional pairings to guests?

What do you thing about the sparkling wines and champagne? What main course items would you pair them with on your menu or any menu?

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Pairing wine and Indian cuisine is something I want to get a better understanding of. Nowadays, in planning a restaurant it's a prerequisite to have a strong wine menu to match the concept.

There is a very simple answer to this question of how to match wine and Indian cuisine and it is: don't bother.

I know I'm going to get flak for this, and I hate to pick a quarrel with Raju's expertise but I've tired this many times, with many different wines, and it really doesn't work.

I mean you can drink wine with Indian food and you won't drop dead and it can even be a reasonably pleasant glug. But you get nothing extra from the combination and that I always thought was the purpose of food-beverage combining.

I also do not want to be rude to the many restaurateurs on this list, but I must note how this thread confirms an observation I've made that the people who ask this question most insistently are restaurateurs which leads me to think that they're more interested in boosting profit margins from liquor sales than really enhancing their customers' dining experience.

What's particularly annoying is that there IS a drink that goes extremely well with Indian food and its beer - and I say this without being much of a beer drinker myself (I go for wine anyday) but its simply true. I don't mean beer in the curry and lager sense - notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat, and something has to explain the success of chicken tikka masala.

What I'm referring to are Belgian and German wheat beers, particularly the ones that use spices like coirander in the brewing like Hoegaarden. They are light, cooling, very refreshing, have hints of traditional Indian drinks like limbu-pani (these beers are often taken with slices of lime) and the spice adds a sympathetic note. Try them the next time you're eating Indian food and you'll find everything you never got with wine.

And since restaurateur's profits must be respected (I mean that almost sincerely), please could they consider the mark-ups that could be made on imported beers!

Vikram

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Shamelessly pushing my own work again, here's a piece I wrote in the Times of India to show the extent to which this wine matching nonsense can get to. The piece was written just after the Indian Finance Minister presented his annual Budget in Parliament:

Wine Tastings

Vikram Doctor, Mumbai 7/3/2003

The Finance Minister’s reduction of customs duty on imported alcohol in the Budget might seem like a boost for the wine lovers of Mumbai. Now finally, it might be imagined, all those wines from Australia, California, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Spain and South Africa which have been coming in over the last few years might be affordable for the less than lucre laden wine lover. All those years that we kept faith while choking down the vinegar passing for wine produced by certain unnamable Indian brands, or the alcoholic cough syrups that were Goan ports, were not in vain. Finally perhaps we might have reached that paradise we dreamed of where good wine was as easily available as in any Paris bistro and at prices that didn’t require pawning the family jewels.

Or then again, maybe not. The Budget may or may not make wine cheaper (the fine print is less generous), but even if it did, the wine business would still have to overcome an even greater hurdle. Beyond the problems of price, the difficulties of availability, the lack of quality retail outlets for wine and the troubles of storing it through Mumbai’s blazing summers, lies an even worse threat. Can the wine manufacturers and importers ever break escape the clutches of wine tasting groups?

The strange thing about this problem is that it is an entirely self-created one. Marketers of other alcoholic drinks have built a large customer base by going all out to ensure availability in bars and restaurants and pushing consumers to sample their products. But when it comes to wine, perhaps its the duty structure, perhaps its an existing upmarket image, perhaps its just lazy marketing, but it only ever seems to be visualised as a niche product. And so instead of mass sampling, you go for small wine tastings, doing your best to maintain the snob image.

This is questionable in itself - for all the mystique of select vintages, lovingly stored for years, wine’s real success in major wine drinking countries comes from its casual consumers, who’ll habitually polish off a bottle at each meal, or have wine by the glass in bars. But even on its own terms of creating a snob market it doesn’t work. The whole pretentious and self-satisfied format of the wine tasting militates against it.

Consider how it happens: an upmarket restaurant has its arm twisted or is heavily paid off to host the event. You sit at a table behind a bulbous barrage of wine glass - six at the least, with a seventh for mineral water to refresh your palate. At the centre of the table is seated the foreign winemaker who’s here to promote his wares. He’s doing this as part of an exhausting Asia wide programme and by the point has reached the if-itsMonday-it-must-Mumbai stage. Bemused by the place, the food and the company, he sits clutching the one point of familiarity, his wine, and waits for the moment when he must stand and go through his spiel about his country, his winery and how happy he is to be wherever he is.

Around the table the group listening to him is made up approximately as follows: 5% the company, if the winery is distributed by a multinational with local presence, otherwise the importer; 5% the PR company that has set this up; 5% someone from the hotel or restaurant which is picking up part of the cost; 10% the Standard Local Connoisseur, a couple of guys rich enough to buy their own Burgundies and Bordeaux, and who have hence been accorded the exalted status of being the last word on wine in that city; and 75%, the Freebie Fraternity, mostly journalists, or lets just say people given column space by newspapers that should know better, whose defining mission in life is to write about anything - food, travel, cigars, wine - as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

The tasting takes its grisly course. The courses are brought, wines poured, the winemaker describes it using copious adjectives (flowery, feminine, buttery, bold, overtones of vanilla and caramel, etc), which the Freebies try to remember for their columns, before deciding they’ll just take it from the PR handout at the end. The wine is sipped, people make a major show of rolling it around their palate and competing to say how they detected just those characteristics the winemaker mentioned. As the evening progresses, less and less effort is made, and by the last wine they are frankly just gulping. (Of course, no question here of spitting out the wine after tasting).

At some point in the evening there always comes the one moment when one is most tempted to smash one of the bottles on the table and used its jagged edges to slits ones wrists. It usually comes midway, once you’re past the appetisers, soup and seafood, and the main course has just been served. This is always an Indian dish, or with Indian touches and is the cue for someone to clear their throat and ask the winemaker, “Isn’t it a myth that Indian food doesn’t go with wine?” This is probably the first time the winemaker is eating Indian food, but he’s come miles to flog his wine, so its not entirely surprising when he looks thoughtful and says, that well, yes, actually, wine - his wine - can in fact be drunk with Indian food.

Which is to miss the point spectacularly. Of course it can be drunk with Indian food without dropping dead on the spot. But the point with matching wine to food is whether the combination adds up to more than the sum of its parts, as when a rich red wine rounds out a good steak, or the sweet-sourness of strawberries is given an extra kick by the effervescent acid kick of champagne. This almost never happens with Indian food - the spices, the ghee and onion laden gravies of the north, or the coconut in the curries of the south, make no special connection with wine. There is such a drink. I’m no beer drinker, but I’d have to admit, that no wine can match Indian food like a crisp cold lager (or even better the spicy light wheat beers of Belgium, alas, not found here).

But of course, you’re as likely to hear that at a wine tasting, as you are to find a lawyer who’ll tell you that you don’t have a case to take to court. Wine tastings are entirely orchestrated events, which is what makes it so surprising that they so completely miss the point. What after all is the commercial benefit of selling to this particular crowd. The Standard Local Connoisseur might swig whatever brand you’re pushing at the tasting, but wouldn’t stoop to buying it themselves. And the Freebies buy nothing by definition. Perhaps the hope is that some of the masses who read the Freebies copy might run out and buy crates, but the chances of anyone actually being persuaded by their preening, self satisfied prose is somewhat low. The hotels will pick up a few crates, some more will languish with the big distributors, and that’s about it. Meanwhile, its time for another country and another round of free booze, as the wine tasting circus continues.

This piece prompted some irate reactions from some people, one of whom wrote a response in a local paper so heavily laden in irony one could almost hear the clunk in every word. One extract is worth quoting because, while he was intending to be supremely satirical, he actually gives quite a good round up of the traditional drinks that could go with Indian food:

Let me explain. First, wine and Indian food. I agree that wine is no good in this context. Surely lassi, nimbu pani, nariel pani, even water goes much better with 'Indian food', your umbrella term for the varied cuisines of our country. You can make the lassi and nimbu pani stronger or lighter in taste, at home or in a restaurant. You can add salt or sugar to them. You could never do that with the wine on your table. And wine is so much costlier.

In fact, thanks to you, I find that our traditional Indian drinks go beautifully with French cuisines. Foie gras with sweet nariel pani is as good if not better than a glass of Sauternes. Fish and shell fish cry out for lemon or lime. I shall never again eat oysters with Chablis, or trout with a Montrachet. I shall eat them with nimbu pani, doctored just right to suit my palate after I have tasted the food. Why drink a Sauvignon Blanc like Sancerre with goat cheese, when lassi is so much better. Lassi is a dairy product like cheese, unlike wine. It is a superb combination. So is sweetened lassi with blue cheeses, instead of port or dessert wines. A marriage made in heaven. And slightly salty lassi with more neutral tasting cheeses. And tea instead of red wine; tea without milk and sugar has a similar astringent tannin like after taste, and also the health benefits. And phalsa juice, panna or aam ras, or khus flavoured drinks? The possibilities are endless. What joy, how cheap.

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Pairing wine and Indian cuisine is something I want to get a better understanding of. Nowadays, in planning a restaurant it's a prerequisite to have a strong wine menu to match the concept.

There is a very simple answer to this question of how to match wine and Indian cuisine and it is: don't bother.

I know I'm going to get flak for this, and I hate to pick a quarrel with Raju's expertise but I've tired this many times, with many different wines, and it really doesn't work.

I mean you can drink wine with Indian food and you won't drop dead and it can even be a reasonably pleasant glug. But you get nothing extra from the combination and that I always thought was the purpose of food-beverage combining.

I also do not want to be rude to the many restaurateurs on this list, but I must note how this thread confirms an observation I've made that the people who ask this question most insistently are restaurateurs which leads me to think that they're more interested in boosting profit margins from liquor sales than really enhancing their customers' dining experience.

What's particularly annoying is that there IS a drink that goes extremely well with Indian food and its beer - and I say this without being much of a beer drinker myself (I go for wine anyday) but its simply true. I don't mean beer in the curry and lager sense - notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat, and something has to explain the success of chicken tikka masala.

What I'm referring to are Belgian and German wheat beers, particularly the ones that use spices like coirander in the brewing like Hoegaarden. They are light, cooling, very refreshing, have hints of traditional Indian drinks like limbu-pani (these beers are often taken with slices of lime) and the spice adds a sympathetic note. Try them the next time you're eating Indian food and you'll find everything you never got with wine.

And since restaurateur's profits must be respected (I mean that almost sincerely), please could they consider the mark-ups that could be made on imported beers!

Vikram

Vikram,

Thank you! I feel vindicated now. Not too long ago I was approached by the owner of an Indian restaurant and asked to devise a wine pairing program. Having only a casual acquaintance with Indian cuisine, my first thought was riesling, pinot blanc and syrah. We sat down to taste many different dishes. When the lamb vindaloo landed and I started really sweating, the thought crossed my mind that wine was a terrible accompaniment to this food. The curries and chilies accentuated the alcohol leaving unpleasant tastes on the palate and actually increasing the heat. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one to think beer a better choice.

One question: what is the tradition of wine drinking in Indian society?

Mark

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Wine and Indian Food

I think we Indians should try and figure out for ourselves what we really need in the form of a beverage with Indian foods. We should consider the western models for spicy food pairings but not feel obligated to be bound by them. The cuisine is based on ancient aurvedic principles which propogates fluid restraints with meals.On another thread on Beverages someone mentioned coke, if that works for you why not. I like water with my meal and thats my choice. I may not agree completely with Vikram on Don't bother with respect to Matching wine to Indian cuisine, all I would say is that perhaps lighter, slightly sweeter, fruitier wines might enhance the Indian dining experience by cleansing and refreshing the palate for the next tastes rather than overpowering it.

There might also be some merit in the practice that most in India would enjoy an alcoholic beverage as a cocktail prelude to a meal but not drink anything with the meal. alcohol in wine/ spirits etc might also dull your senses and you may not fully enjoy/savour or appriciate the flavors and nuances that your host / chef has worked so hard to prepare.

I do agree with Vikram that restaurants are interested in increasing their liquor sales but we are also interested in our customers' ( we like to call them guests) dining experience as, if its not positive he is not comming back.

Its like appetisers or starters on the menus, Samosas, Chat papri, Bhel Puri, mini dosas etc,. If I eat two samosas to start, my dinner is gone. And dessert, in America you got to have dessert! growing up we usually had nothing or some fruit. But we push it all! We are really bad people! We will do anything for money, even make a customer happy.

Just having a little fun Vikram, its good to have you back.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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The curries and chilies accentuated the alcohol leaving unpleasant tastes on the palate and actually increasing the heat. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one to think beer a better choice.

Chillies are bad enough, wait till you try and combine wine with South Indian dishes made with coconut milk or flavoured with coconut oil. I defy anyone to find a wine pairing that goes well with coconut.

One question: what is the tradition of wine drinking in Indian society

There's a certain gentleman who claims to be the father of the Indian wine industry who is prone to going on about how wine was made in India from ancient times, how famous these ancient vintages were, etc. etc. all of which is duly recycled by journalists as facts, but I am rather dubious. The problem is the word wine is used very freely by Indian writers to mean any alcoholic beverage whether made from sugar cane juice, or mahua flowers, or rice, or dates, or pretty much whatever you like.

The more telling indication I think is the extent to which grapes were grown. K.T.Achaya, the main source on Indian food history, notes that grapes have been grown in North India for a long time, and there are some indigenous varieties, but he also notes that: "In India, the production of alcohol by fermentation has generally favoured starchy materials and palm exudates, though a variety of fruits have also been used. Madhira appeared to have been a grape-based wine."

Achaya doesn't say here where he gets 'Madhira' from and I rather wonder if even this wasn't an Indianisation of Madeira which could very conceivably have been imported from the West - even before the British, since the Mughal court did import wine and isn't Madeira particularly suited for travelling in hot climates? Anyway, I think wine consumption in the Western sense only really starts with the Brits who drank copious amounts of claret and champagne mainly as an alternative to the potentially lethal local water.

The post Independence wine experience is not to be contemplated by the weak of palate. I once, for a wine magazine in California, bought a sample of every Indian wine in the market and got quite a startling number. I try not to remember the tasting that followed but its been burned into my palate, particularly one unspeakably awful white port from Goa. (To add insult to considerable injury, the wine mag went out of business, so there went my story).

Not all these Goan ports were that bad, especially if you didn't think of them as wines, rather than some kind of cough syrup. They were so unassuming as to be almost charming - I particularly remember the one that came with a free bar of soap attached, and the one that was packaged in plastic pouches. There were a few - Monte Guerim, I think, made by monks, that were almost pleasant. Another set came from Indian liquor companies who just made some stuff from whatever grapes came their way - mostly table grapes like Thompson seedless, so you can imagine the result.

The quality went up a bit with two wineries set up more recently - Indage and Grover's. I would rather not comment on Indage apart from their decent sparkling wine (an ex-Indage winemaker told me candidly that this was because quality of grapes didn't matter, only the techniqe). Grover's is better - they have some pretty nice reds. The best whites, I think, come from an even more recent winery called Sula set up by a young guy called Rajeev Samant (who I know slightly, but not so well, I think, to make me less objective). They have sauvignon blancs and chenin blancs that are pleasant glugged well chilled.

Now, of course, as my article pointed out, there's a flood of imported wine coming in, but alas, not yet, imported wheat beers which partly explains my bitterness. Can anyone else confirm my views about wheat beers and Indian food?

Vikram

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Vikram,

Samuel Adams brews a summer ale which I like very much. Its a wheat brew with a hint of lemon and something called ( if I remember correctly) fruit of paradise. Great beer, very drinkable and I think will go well with spicy foods.

Cheers,

Bhasin

PS: Which reminds me, I have been quizzed by patrons on numerous occasions, What is the hindi equivilant of 'Cheers'? Can you please enlighten me? Thanks.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Can anyone else confirm my views about wheat beers and Indian food?

I agree with you here. There are a plethora of Belgian beers you can pair with Indian food. Since almost every town has had its own brewery for centuries, there is a wide range of flavor profiles. I'll look up some of my favorites from my travels through Belgium.

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Can anyone else confirm my views about wheat beers and Indian food?

I agree with you here. There are a plethora of Belgian beers you can pair with Indian food. Since almost every town has had its own brewery for centuries, there is a wide range of flavor profiles. I'll look up some of my favorites from my travels through Belgium.

Orval Trappistale goes very well from Belgium.........

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well, i think it is important not to get too sweepingly general in these matters. on the whole i am with vikram in that i don't think wine is the perfect accompaniment to indian food. that being said, indian food is a multi-headed beast and some parts of it go better/well with some wines than do others. for heavier dishes and for spicy curries and so on i don't think beer (and let's not be too snobby about simple, crisp lagers) can be beat. even dark rum and water goes better than most red wines i think. heaven forbid, even rum and coke goes better with butter chicken and naan than does any shiraz or red zinfandel. perhaps the way out is to pair certain dishes with certain wines and recommend beers and other spirits/cocktails with other dishes?

my bigger problem is with the mindset that often drives these wine-indian food discussions (and i'm not accusing anyone here of having it). there's a certain eurocentric way of defining good cuisine that i think is easy to fall into (for chefs, foodies, critics, and restaurant patrons alike): indian cuisine can't be haute if it isn't plated and served a certain way, or if it can't be paired up with wine. in a more insidious form there is sometimes an evolutionary narrative that creeps in, in which indian cuisine can only be seen as "developing", "growing" if that change is mapped onto high-western approaches. or new dishes are seen as innovative only if they are articulated in a western idiom. why can't indian food, in all its heterogeneity, be taken on its own terms? do japanese restaurateurs or critics worry about which wine will go best with their food?

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mongo_ jones' articulate post has set me thinking.

Perhaps we opt for these non endemic accompaniments because we simply do not have good indigenous spirits. Unless you count a few IMFLs (Indian made foreign liquor)and beers.

It is not impossible to make good Feni, Mahua, Arrack et al., believe me, I know. It's just that the beverage companies dont seem to think that there is a good market. As a keen liquor industry observer I am of the opinion that all of them have a herd instinct and most of the time only react to each others efforts. Otherwise by now we would have had a globally known spirit like Cachaca, Aquavit, Sake to name a few.

And then we would have chosen between the 97 Margao Feni or a 01 Balaghat Mahua to go with the Jungli murgh. :laugh:

Maybe one day......

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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It is so heartening to read these posts. As so far I have been thinking that I must be abnormal because though I love good wines, I preffer them on their own rather than with Indian meals. Water works well for me or sometimes a really thinned down lassi. Or perhaps beer over ice. Yes I learned to drink beer over ice from my father who was in the indian army. In his days of non refrigeration, specially out on the front, they would have bottled beer but ice was precious, one big block wrapped in jute bags to prevent it from melting. They would chip some off and pour the beer over it and he likes to do so even today with perfectly chilled beer. Nostalgia or I guess he just developed a taste for it. I like it in summer or sometimes with the meal. We are all so different.

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Otherwise by now we would have had a globally known spirit like Cachaca, Aquavit, Sake to name a few.

What I want to know is why we can't have Cachaca? I adore caiprinhas (they're alcoholic nimbu pani, after all), but they are really not the same if you don't have cachaca. Vodka doesn't have that exciting raw edge and white rum is too syrupy. I have to implore all friends coming from abroad to pick up bottles for me and luckily, in New York, at least, access seems to be becoming easier.

But the question is, why not cachaca in India? Its just sugar cane spirit, after all, and god knows we have vast amounts of sugar cane, vast waving fields of it that go to prop up those mysteriously saccharine figures of Mahrashtrian politics, the sugar barons. Sometimes after a Sunday lunch at Sri Ramanayaka in Matunga I go to that guy in the market who sells neatly peeled and quartered chunks of it, all ready for chewing.

Surely it could be put to good use making cachaca? Or even more interestingly, perhaps a country liquor version already exists? But like Episure, every time I put this question to people in the liquor industry, all one gets is a don't-waste-out-time attitude. And yes, I've been hearing those rumours about improved Feni for ages, but I have yet to taste anything that doesn't taste better than superior gasoline.

Or perhaps beer over ice. Yes I learned to drink beer over ice from my father who was in the indian army. In his days of non refrigeration, specially out on the front, they would have bottled beer but ice was precious, one big block wrapped in jute bags to prevent it from melting.

Wasn't this done using kettles? An old colonel uncle once showed me the trick of how to quick chill beer: fill a kettle full of ice cubes, our the beer in from the top and IMMEDIATELY out of the spout. Perfectly chilled and hardly diluted.

Vikram

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vikram, you may find this hard to believe but i have had good palm feni. unfortunately i can't remember brand names now but an aficionado friend who visits goa often used to bring bottles of it back for us (this is in my delhi days).

to pick up the thread from my earlier post in this thread: part of the reason i think indians have been less inclined to develop indigenous spirits, and why some indian gourmands sometime get caught up in these convoluted narratives and dubious histories about wine etc. is the high-colonial heritage of the expensive spirit drinking classes. this doesn't play out just in the world of alcohol but also in the arts: indian writers who win the booker or other international awards are more celebrated than those who don't. there's a certain cultural investment in the signposts of english/european and more lately, american distinction. and of course class has a lot to do with why feni is often considered just another country liquor.

as for my second point, that innovation in indian cuisine is only acknowledged if it is articulated in a western idiom it too is of a piece with a larger cultural pattern. here in the west cultural hybridity is only recognized and celebrated if it directly involves the west. thus, to take a very simple example, baz luhrmann is credited with hybridizing bollywood and hollywood film conventions when in fact bollywood is already an amazing hybridization of hollywood and indian film/theater conventions. similar things seem to be happening with food.

of course in the indian context little of this anxiety probably holds true (i hope)--indian chefs, restaurants, homes probably continue to develop, innovate with little regard to or thought of whether this would be recognized as innovation by western foodies (including many snobs on our own egullet, though of course none of us ourselves :smile: )

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Two wines that I have sucessfully been able to pair with many Indian dishes are Champagne ( yes the real stuff) and Savinneres ( Chenin Blanc) did a dinner with a vertical of Clos du Papillion by Baumard back to '78. I think folks should try them especially if you can get your hands onto a Trie Special.

For Indian desserts, my vote is definetly a Moscato d Asti.

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux

makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin

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