Wine Barrel Race in Italy

Barrel Race is traditionally a rodeo event. But in Italy it takes a different form (in many wine regions like montepulciano) where men replace the horses and lift / push wine barrels up to the finish line

This event, held on the last Sunday of August, when barrels are being emptied in preparation for the harvest and the new wine

The men must push the 80-kg barrels through the streets, sometimes uphill, over the more than one kilometer-long course, to the finish line.

The week preceding the event has a line-up of traditional cultural events.

When ‘Food’ pairs well with ‘Wine’

There are times, when you come across a cuisine, which either introduces you for the first time, to the much aclaimed thrill of a good ‘food – wine’ pairing or reinforces your belief in the same..

Here’s one such one. The Italian dish in the frame is named ‘Tomino’ and is ‘Greek cheese & sauteed mushrooms over toasted bread in white truffle oil’ paired with a Prosecco (a sparkling wine from Italy – sometimes casually (albeit incorrectly) also termed as an ‘Italian Champagne’ by laymen.

The light and delicate Bubbly (another way of naming a Sparkling Wine) with its refreshing Acidity (marked by a watery rush on sides of the mouth after a sipping) balances the greasy mushrooms & cheese and in the process accentuates the flavours of the dish multi folds.

Try this combination for a fine gastronomic revelation.


Per Angusta Ad Augusta

A peculiar title for a wine blog ? That’s right !! The reason for this however, is that ‘Per Augusta Ad Augusta’ is the motto of the wine house named “IL Polenzo” in Italy whose wines (amongst many others) I got an opportunity to taste recently, and it means through trial to triumph
Tastings were conducted as part of a ‘Wine Masterclass’ by Mr Roberto Felluga (who owns the ‘Marco Felluga Winery’ near Venice) by the Italics Wine Club, at New Delhi.

Mr Roberto Felluga conducting the Wine Masterclass at New Delhi

The event which was supported by the Delhi Wine Club, saw an array of wines from all across Italy, tasted by a diverse and cosmopolitan gathering of wine enthusiasts.

Wines from various regions of Italy

Amongst the variety of wines, I write about one which I particularly liked and that is the ‘Porpora Rosso’ – a red wine produced by ‘IL Polenzo estate‘ at the Marche region in central Italy.

Interestingly, Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) is an IGT wine region and is located on the eastern side of central Italy. It is sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea on east and the Apennine mountains towards West.

Location of Marche in Central Italy (pic courtesy – Google maps)

It thus experiences both – warm winds from the sea and the cooling effect of mountains. In addition it also benefits from balancing effect of the rivers flowing through the area. All this coupled with a rich clay & limestone rich soil results in some excellent wines. And although the region is best known for its renowned ‘Verdicchio’ – a white wine, but it also gives some quality red ones.

Further, unlike any demarcated wine region in Italy like a DOC/DOCG, an IGT region is relatively liberal in terms of restrictions on wine making. This aspect is favourably exploited by winemakers in Marche IGT to produce some high quality albeit unique wines by using innovative blends and techniques.

Marche town on banks of Adriatic sea (pic courtesy – Google)

Porpora Rosso is one such IGT wine, and is a blend of Merlot and Montepulciano varietals (you would notice the non-traditional blend). It is fermented in Vitrified Cement Vats (unique again) and aged in French & Slovanian oak barrels/barriques for one year. The wine is further refined in bottle for another one year.

Porpora Rosso – a red wine by Il Polenza estate in Marche IGT

All above, coupled with sincere wine making by the producer results in an excellent wine with enticing deep purple hues, smooth and rounded tannins, refreshing acidity, rich mouth feel and lingering finish.

A special mention is deserved by the array of Italian cold cuts on the table which paired extremely well with the wines thereby greatly enhancing the wine experience.

Italian small bites and cold cuts tasted well with all the wines

The Masterclass culminated with an informal and a pleasurable interaction between all present. Mr Felluga could be seen his humble avatar – himself pouring wines for enthusiastic guests who were all keenly immersed in the experience.

Guests were keen and enthusiastic about the masterclass & the overall wine experience

I would conclude by saying the event was a unique and pleasurable Indo-Italian oeonological fusion which show cased the immense possibilities and promise of Italian wines promotion in India.

Learning from your Wine Mistakes

Through this post I wish to drive home the following lesson about wines..or shall i say about ‘wine and food pairing’ to be precise. And that is ..”Learn from your mistakes”
During my early days of learning wines i was lucky to receive a timely advice from the Indian wine maestro – ‘the wineguyindia’. And this was ‘if you want to learn wines then taste as many wines as possible’ – simple yet effective technique which I have followed and one which I always recommend to anyone seeking wine advise from me.
By extension, this also applies equally well to the wonderful yet intriguing world of ‘wine and food pairing.
Now, it becomes obvious that when you we tasting as many wines as possible then you will love some and dislike some. Same with the pairing : some ‘food – wine pairing’ will work for you by enhancing the overall experience and others would turn out bad – the proverbial culinary disaster.
Regardless of above, take a note of both. Whereas the perfect pairing will automatically imprint on your mind as a pleasurable sensation, on the other hand the ‘bad food – wine pairing’ will also register in mind with equal prominence.
As a student of wine I soon realised that the bad experience teaches more – what went wrong, what was amiss, how could it be better etc – these questions drive home important wine – food pairing lessons.
The picture displays one example of a bad ‘wine – dessert’ pairing. The wine depicted is a Soave Superior Classico, an amazing white wine from Verona region of North Italy.
Soon after the first few sips I realised the richness of the wine – much due to oak effect and some creamy, nutty, biscuity flavours – which I guessed should be because of ageing on lees. Maybe because of this the tip of my tongue (which contains most of sweet taste buds) got a mild sweet sensation.
This further prompted me to try pairing the wine with the dessert – a rich cheese cake in this case.
The result was a disaster – not only there was no enhancement of flavour but the pairing also destroyed the wine totally by making it appear bland.
Lesson here was one from the ‘first principles’ and that is ‘while pairing wine with a dessert, the wine should be more sweet than the dessert.
So this was a case of a bad pairing choice – a mistake which served to refresh me with the basic principle of ‘wine – food pairing’ – one which I would remember forever.
Do share your own wine – food experience, if they drove home a lesson. Cheers.

PS : do also check out this amazing site for healthy cake recipes..with or without wine- – spreading yumminess through cakes..

A Day Filled with Surprise

It was a day filled with surprises. Picked out from the bucket wish list was ‘The Pasta Bowl Company’ which became the venue for our family outing – a mini reunion of sorts since son came down from Jaipur (hostel) and we two from the emerald islands (Andamans).

Going by standard yardstick of ‘”white wine during daytime” I rummaged through the wine list and almost homed on to a Chardonnay. But that was not to be (being out of stock).

Well, it was a Rose wine which was seeking us that day (yes, they say a good wine too seeks to be savoured and appreciated).

We ordered the Robert Mondavi “Woodbridge Zinfandel Rose” from Lodi wine region, California. It was my first tryst with a Zinfandel Rose and the first sip told me that it’s going to be memorable.

Again, the textbook parings of pasta and pizza with the Rose wine worked well for us. The restaurant rightfully prides in serving Italian fare with fresh and light ingredients and these paired wonderfully with the wine.

But the surprise was in the dessert. Best is saved for last – as goes the saying.

Now, the thumb rule is that “wine should be sweeter than the dessert”. So I was not expecting the wine to pair in anyway with the “Blueberry Cheese cake” which we had ordered. No harm in trying though (the vino in me whispered) – and I agreed without much resistance.

And as they say – the world of wines us full of surprises. A sip of the Zinfandel Rose with the cake paired exceptionally well resulting in a pleasurable culinary sensation.

The family outing with Zinfandel Rose with succulent Italian fare and the BBC cake indeed became a memorable one and has since got etched in the wine memory.

4 Basic Wine Elements

When I was doing my wine course, my instructor had said – “remember these four basic elements in a wine – if these are present then the wine will have the potential to age”.

His words since got imprinted on my wine memory. Today, I feel happy to share these with everyone in form of a short presentation.

Hope you appreciate it and benefit from these. Questions / views are welcome.

Check out the clip on YouTube too and do subscribe to the channel.

Coravin Screw Caps

Coravin is the magical contraption that allows you to draw wine from a bottle without opening the cork. This way you can pour limited portion of wine without worrying that the balance will go bad. Certainly an oeonological boon, is it not ?

However, can Coravin be used for screw cap wine bottles as well ?

To the delight of wine lovers, it does (However, this innovation is only available in Australia and new Zealand for the moment)

How Coravin Works for Screwcaps

1 Grab your favourite bottle of expensive wine that’s sealed with a screwcap
2 Remove and discard existing screwcap
3 Immediately replace with Coravin Screw Cap
4 Push the hollow needle of the Coravin System through Coravin Screw Cap
5 Continue to use Coravin as if it was bottled with a cork.

After pouring, remove the needle, and the Coravin Screw Cap will re-seal to protect the wine from oxidation.

Source : The Wine Wankers, read the full article at

Video Clip :

No price is too high for a wine passion

India EU wine taxIndia-EU FTA Summit : Negotiating Free Trade in Wines

INR 9K for Barolo !!  I exclaimed so loudly in my mind that I’m sure the lady next to me in the wine retail shop, heard it. Not sure whether she actually did, but I could sense in her the same predicament which most of Indian wine consumers have (I’m sure you do too) – which is “money is not a constraint but dishing out exorbitant amount for a bottle of imported wine is just not fine by me – even it is my favorite one”. It’s a different matter that more often than not, we end up buying it – often justifying it to our spouses jokingly by saying – “Shauq bari cheez hai” which means  “No price is too high for a passion”. I bought the Barolo too.

Well, one does have to spend a fortune to buy a good quality international wine in India. And if it happens to be a Bordeaux or a Barolo that you are eyeing, then the damage is exponentially higher. Like me, I’m sure you also wonder WHY !?

Now, post liberalization, Indian consumers have had an easy access to various imported goods and services. Globalization has ensured availability of international products in domestic markets at competitive prices. Despite this, the availability of imported wines into India has been restricted and these still come at exorbitant prices. The end sufferer due to this is the humble yet observant Indian wine consumer, who is forever expectant of good quality international wines at a reasonable price.

Free Trade Agreement    India – European (EU) negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were launched in 2007 to boost bilateral trade. As part of FTA, EU has been actively engaging the Indian government for elimination of duties on wines and spirits. If this happens, it could open the proverbial flood gates for European wines into Indian markets at a reasonable price. Presently, the custom duty on import of wines into India are as high as approx. 150% – and this along with host of other taxes and levies make imported wines very expensive to the end consumer. The 14th India-EU Summit which concluded on 06 October 2017 at the national capital promised to carry these negotiations forward –  and this does keep the aspirations of Indian wine consumers alive – of accessing quality European wines at a reasonable cost. Hope that happens soon.




So, you want to throw a wine party ?

Parties are integral to the wine eco-system. Be it wine-tasting, wine promotion, wine social or a formal black tie wine dinner, it often becomes incumbent upon a wine enthusiast to attend these. While some of such wine parties are commonplace and soon forgotten, there are others which by their excellent conduct, become memorable and much talked about in the wine circles.

“How to organize a perfect wine party?” is an often asked question, and much googled too, amongst wine aficionados. What’s the big deal one could say…procure the wines, cater good food, invite people and you are on!! Well not quite so. Any wine literate person knows that a wine party is not just another party but it is one which requires a meticulous planning and execution.

So what goes into throwing a successful wine party? Some of well-established suggestions would include selecting good wines as per theme (like old/new world wines, varietal wines etc), correct food pairing, proper wine glassware, serving wines at correct temperature, synchronized wine-food serving etc. But is that enough? Well it certainly is, going by the book, however there always are certain additional “X-Factors” which add value to a wine party and make it successful.


Wine Ambassador Every wine has a story it is often said. If that is true, then a wine ambassador is the story teller. He’s the one qualified to speak about all aspects of the wines being served. An adept wine ambassador can much enhance the sensory experience of a wine by relating it to the land from which it comes, it’s people, customs, traditions besides the technical and commercial aspects.

Qualified Sommelier A qualified wine sommelier, if present at the party, would keep his focus on the wines being served and ensure the technicalities of wine storage, decanting, serving etc, to make the wine consumption a seamless and a pleasurable experience.

Dedicated Host Like any other party, a passionate host is the life-line of a wine party. Proper selection of wines and the paired food, ensuring a judicious mix of guests, effectively engaging the guests during the party in an interactive environment, are some ways by which a good host keeps up the success quotient of the party.

Chef’s Involvement Generally wines are selected to match the food being ordered. But a wine party is different. Here the wines take the center-stage and the food has to be selected so as to match the wines. This puts the Chef in the center-stage. He has use his knowledge and experience with wines to finalize and prepare proper food as per the wines being served. It is not uncommon these days for the Chef to make an appearance during the party itself and interact with the guests to get a feel of how the food is being relished and offer insights into food-wine pairing.

Winemaker’s Presence Presence of the winemaker/owner of the winery in a wine party is always a plus. He would tell so many things about his wines which one would never find in books and even less so on online platforms. What better to listen about the wines from the person who has produced them.

Innovation and Collaboration Innovative ideas can add value to a wine party and contribute towards its success. The possibilities here are limited only by the boundaries of the mind. It could be inclusion of a wine celebrity or say a Master Sommelier/Master of Wine in the guest list. It may even be selecting a unique venue for the event. Recent trends also point towards collaborative themes like wine and art, wine and fashion or even wine and entertainment. Only thing to keep in mind that the add-ons should not be over bearing and the central theme should always be the wine – after all its a wine party.

So if you are planning to organize a wine party, do take a cue from above X-Factors to make it a successful and a memorable one. The only caveat being adherence to the prescribed limits for wine consumption so as to make it enjoyable for all. Cheers!

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