A drive of about three hours from Mumbai, I decided to take a weekend trip to Nashik, to explore it's well-known grape gardens - The Vineyards.
Nashik is a humble city in the lap of the Trimbakeshwar mountain ranges in western ghats of Maharashtra. An ancient religious city, known for its serene weather that encourages viticulture and thus, one can see the finest of vineyards mushrooming in the region.
The cure for my curiosity was taking up a wine tasting tour at SULA Vineyards which is also one of the sustainable vineyards in the country. When you are exposed to the winemaking process on tour you understand how the production takes place, and the knowledge thus gained ,enables you to appreciate wines sophisticatedly.
This was an all-inclusive tour with an expert guide who made it very enjoyable. The duration of the tour was about sixty minutes and we were a group of fifteen participants from different parts of the country, adults of different age groups.
The tasting cellar was a place where I was introduced to the five steps of wine tasting.
#Steps to tasting your very first wine
See - Your wine should be clear. See the color of your wine as deep-colored wines are known to be better. Swirl - It is very important to gently swirl your wine for the bouquet,i.e aroma and flavors to be released. Smell - Smelling the wine will help prepare your palate to absorb the taste Sip- A small of sip while drawing air with your tongue will give you the best taste by adding air to the wine. Swallow- keep your head in tilted fashion and let the wine run down your throat. Voila! You tasted your wine just like a sommelier would do!
So, I tasted my first wine too ( how I wished to capture my expression of the flavor burst), and took a lesson on different types of wine. There was a wide range of wines available. Unfair as it would sound, but the poets solely cite the classic red ones. It was heart-breaking, was when I realised that the glorified port wine from Goa, which probably most of the Indians have tasted or been gifted, is no real wine, after you taste these legendary ones.
The tour gave me an excellent opportunity to put to use my knowledge of French language, as I aced the pronunciation of names of the grape variety and wine-growing regions of France, that wines were christened after.
Bordeaux, Champagne, Chardonnay, Chantilly. Yes, pronounced them with the perfect roll of tongue( told you, I aced it)
I inferred that wine is affected by temperature and humidity, by the soil in which the grapes are grown, by the climate of the region, by the type of wooden cask used, by the duration of fermentation, and many factors that play an important role to ensure the production of quality wines.
The familiarization and tasting session had just got over and I realised I was already talking wine!
I thanked my guide, who was then expecting a group of excited tourists, next in line, ready for the winery tour.
#What makes India the next hotspot for wine tourism?
About three decades ago, the idea of a wine holiday in India was not popularly conceived.
In 1997, when SULA Vineyards commenced their operations in Nashik, they brought about a revolution in the wine industry by not just selling wine but by also selling a 'wine experience' that was delightedly appreciated by the domestic tourist.
There has been no looking back since then, and many vineyards in the country have fashioned themselves according to the global wine destination standards, facilitating tourists with resort holiday packages, fine dining restaurants, wine stores, wine boutiques to shop from, wine festivals, wine tours, vineyard experiences, photo booths and picture arenas, in-house training sessions on wine selection, tailormade experiences for corporate events,..and much more! This makes a wine holiday a favorable option also for families, as the need for every age group is paid heed to!
Wine holidays have become synonymous with luxury getaways in India and are getting increasingly popular with the millennials venerating this classic fermented beverage and pairing it up with culinary experiences, like never before!
A wine holiday is typically a very short one, not more than three days, and is a brilliant option for a weekend trip when you want to break the monotony of your routine, while you unwind and relax. The ambience of a wine resort also makes it perfect for anniversary celebration and romantic getaways.
If you are wondering what a wine holiday would be like? then, let's find out...!
#What to expect on a Wine holiday: visiting during a Wine festival v/s visiting on other wine days (every day is a wine day) While visiting a vineyard during the wine festival, one can expect,
Global wine lovers flocking the venue Excitement and Euphoria Lively atmosphere Cheerful crowd Gastronomic delights Goodies and takeaways Events and competitions Attractive discounts on purchases Interacting with the best of people from the industry Seasonal rates on resort packagesWhile visiting on other wine days, one can expect,
More time to explore the vineyards Good discounts on resort packages Fewer groups Feel of a private holiday Intimate celebrations Off-season discounts and offers Rooms with a better view of the vineyard Opportunity to explore other products apart from wine An opportunity to interact with a sommelier (if you are lucky) Service experience that you will cherish forever
Post the tour, I explored a wine boutique and a retail outlet for more products a winery could offer. I purchased a bottle of grapeseed oil for my skin routine, being rich in vitamin E & vitamin C and working wonders for skin restoration, I also decided I would gift a wine bottle for every birthday this year and introduce my dear ones to the beverage that has been consumed for over centuries and guide them on their journey from a wine lover to a connoisseur ......of course, with a hearty laugh on their French pronunciations!