On occasion of Pune’s 8th Wine Festival on February 14-15, we had a little chat with its founder and organiser, B. Shankaranarayan. Excerpts…
What made you start the Pune Wine Festival ? Other than to bring people together for the love of good wine and food, what was your thought behind it?
People never get an opportunity to taste the wine before they buy the bottle. For example, if you taste a Cabernet Sauvignon made in 2014 and 2015 from the same winery, it will taste completely different. Add to that the number of wineries, there is a risk in drinking wine. My thought process behind the Pune Wine Festival is to get people to taste as many different wines as they can and develop a palate for it. A “wine flight” as it’s called, this is the festival where you come to taste before you buy.
What can we expect in the 2015 edition?
This year we have some big improvements. Firstly, a wine store owned by a wine maker, Dr Rajesh Rasal. He makes wines for different wineries and brands and his store in Kalyani Nagar called D Vineyards is the first of its kind for 100% expert advice. Also we have new wine coolers- Sinn and Cruso, which are readymade, a red wine called “De La Rouge” by Oakwood Winery based in Shrirampur, 17 varieties of cheese (some from Kodaikanal), which include vegetarian as well as three kinds of smoked cheeses too.
Which was your very first wine fest that you ever went to (either in India or the world). What were your takeaways from it?
Well, I have been drinking wine since 1975! Although I do remember my first visit in 1986 to Napa Valley, Sonoma County in California and went to plenty wineries and vineyards. But the real eye opener was in 1995 and also in 2005, when I went to Australia for a period of three months each, saw many estates and festivals and brought the concept back home to India.
Give us a layman’s guide to good wine. What are the certain key aspects to know before we buy a bottle? A Wine 101 of sorts….
First – always taste it before you buy it. Cannot stress that enough. Also, more expensive the wine doesn’t ensure greater quality. So don’t go by the price. Always check for references. Talk to your friends, ask for advice on wines before you get any. As for food pairing, the only rule is that there are no rules! Just trust your palate. If you like chicken kolhapuri with red wine, go for it! There are some techniques to wine tasting too- take a sip of the wine, roll it in your mouth and then spit it out! Based on the feeling in your tongue and inner cheek, take a call on your purchase. Also, wine is very dehydrating, for every 30 ml of wine, drink about 100 ml of water!