So, you want to throw a wine party ?


X-Factors for a successful 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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Tour de France 2017 – and the Chilean Wine Connection


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Tour de France, presumably the greatest bicycle race in the world, was held in France from 01 to 23 July 2017. The tournament was won by Chris Froome of Britain. But there’s a wine connection too associated with the sporting event. Read more to find out.

“Tour de France 2017: Britain’s Chris Froome wins yellow jersey for the fourth time – BBC Sport, 23 July 2017”.

But hey, this is a wine blog-post and why should I be mentioning about the world’s greatest bicycle race, you may wonder !!  Well the reason lies in the “Bicycle” itself, as I will bring out a bit later…

Zoom in for a moment to South America – to Chile wine region to be precise. One of the leading exporters of wines from Chile is the Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery. It was established in 1993 as a subsidiary of Concha y Toro Winery and the name Cono Sur means the ‘South America’s Southern Cone’.

Now, Cono Sur signed up as official wine of the Tour de France for three years in 2015. This year too in June 2017, the brand launched Bicicleta Pinot Noir –  marking its status as the official wine of Le Tour de France with a limited edition range.

The wine bottle labels, which have been designed by the renowned cycling artist Eliza Southwood, honor Miguel Indurain (Of Spain) who won the Tour de France for five consecutive times from 1991.  Tacitly, the label also recognizes the contribution of “bicycles” – which are used by the workers who come to work in the Cono Sur vineyards – and herein lies the Bicycle connection which I mentioned above.

With an underlying theme of “inspired by greatness”, the limited edition wine bottles symbolically aim to “unite the wines and the riders” participating in the Tour de France 2017.

So here’s a toast to Britain for being the champions in Tour de France 2017 and a cheer to Cono Sur for being the official wine brand for the tournament.

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Cava de paraje –  the Grand Cru of Cava       

Cava, the Sparkling wine wine from Spain has, over recent years, gained much favour amongst wine consumers world over and this along with Prosecco (Italian bubbly) is increasingly proving a viable competition to the French Champagne.

Now, “Cava de Paraje“, the new proverbial ‘grand cru’ of Cava, could become a reality soon –  according to the Spanish agriculture ministry
As per Cava Regulatory Board, the rules for same would include a maximum yield of 8000 kg/ha, 36 months of ageing in the bottle, only vintage wines and only brut styles.
Certainly a reason to celebrate for the Cava fans.

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Source – Vinexpo )

The first 12 cava sites, and their owners, are:




The Pio Cesare Villa

Time flies, and the world of wines is no exception. It has almost been a year since I interacted with Mr Pio Boffa, who is the renowned yet humble wine producer from Piedmont in North West Italy. The occasion was the wine-maker’s dinner organized by the Prestige Wines and Spirits at The Leela Hotel, New Delhi.


Pio Cesare Wine Dinner at The Leela Hotel, New Delhi

During the course of the dinner Pio, the 4th generation owner of the famed Pio Cesare winery, introduced his wines with much passion, knowledge and a lot of anecdotes. Notable amongst the wine showcased were the Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera of different vintages.  Little did I know that a year on I would again be interacting with the famed wine maker to know more about his wines, Barolo in particular. More about it further in the write up, but first a brief report on the state of Harvest 2016 which has been much discussed in wine circles recently.

World Harvest-2016       World over the general perception has been of a tough harvest due to inclement weather conditions. El Nino in South America, frost and hail in France and poor weather conditions in South Africa, all these adversely affected the grapes in the vineyards. There was some saving grace towards the end of the growing season when certain parts of Europe witnessed a warm and sunny climate. The resultant expectation was of a good quality albeit reduced quantity of the produce.

On a macro level, the 2016 harvest can said to have produced lesser volumes of wines as compared to previous years owing to inclement weather conditions – almost a 20 year low as per some estimates, the exact figures should be out soon.

Piedmont Harvest 2016   However, in Piedmont things were different where the weather Gods granted a favorable weather to suit the viticulture requirements and this resulted in a bumper harvest. Wine producers have proclaimed it as an outstanding harvest and expect excellent quality wines particularly the Barolo. To Some the 2016 growing season reminds of 1964, one of Barolo’s legendary vintages, and if that’s true then there’s much to cheer amongst the Barolo enthusiasts world over.

The reports of a superb Barolo harvest in Piedmont prompted me to contact Mr Pio Boffa once again, this time on e-mail, to know more about the harvest and the wines. Not only did he respond promptly but provided pertinent information and his views. Excerpts of my interaction with the winemaker are as following.

Me         How has been the Harvest 2016 with particular reference to Barolo?

Pio Boffa             “We are extremely happy, pleased and thrilled about the wines we have been able to produce in 2016, particularly the Barolo. It has been a perfect and an ideal harvest from the point of view of both quality and quantity. My experience of more than 40 harvests here in the region has taught me that quality and quantity never go together. This year has been an absolute exception and we can’t be happier about it”

Me         How have been the weather conditions during the harvest?

PB           “The weather was a bit rainy in late spring, but we did not experience any frost problem and the flowering started nicely and gently. We had enough rain to grant sufficient humidity beneath the soil and to the roots, which enabled us to face a very warm summer, with hot weather continuing for long time even during the harvesting, which was not as early as in 2015.

The grapes were all very healthy, ripe, with the correct amount of acids, ripe tannins and good sugars: a dream for us growers. We picked with almost no rainy days, with the exceptions of just a few during the entire harvest.

Me         Tell something about the vinification?

PB           “Fermentations were carried on very regularly and correctly. Great color extraction, good, supple and ripe tannin extraction and the healthiness of the grapes and the skins allowed us to carry on very long macerations with wonderful extractions”

Me         What is your expectation from the wines from 2016 harvest?

PB           “We will be having wines with great elegance, concentration and balance, with a great amount of rich ripe fruit and extracts, forward characters and an extremely long ageing potential. Wines would be well balanced and supported by fruit and tannins”

Me         Any final words for Harvest 2016 ?

PB           2016 will be a fantastic vintage for wine lovers and collectors as also for the “purists” who have a strong faith in the great and unique character of Nebbiolo.

The winemaker’s delight and enthusiasm about an outstanding harvest has certainly rubbed off on me and would make me eagerly await the release of the Barolo 2016 vintage. However, that would take time since the minimum ageing requirement stipulated for Barolo is 2 years. But as I mentioned earlier, time flies and hope it flies fast this time. Till then keep loving the Barolo.

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Every wine reflects the personality of it’s winemaker

“Every wine has a story”…goes the saying. Well if that’s true then the story teller (or the wine maker) certainly assumes a central place in the wine experience. This also supports my belief that the winemaker’s personality is always reflected in the wine he makes.

I often try to read about the  winemaker of the wine which I’m having and would correlate the personality of the winemaker with the type of wine he produces as under..

Serious winemaker  – his wines should display perfectness in all aspects including balance of tannins, acidity, sugar, and alcohol etc. A text book precise wine.

Casual winemaker – his wines should be more of easy to drink  – much dependent on the magic of the terroir and less on viticulture and vinification efforts.

Maverick winemaker– his wines would display an element of boldness and experimentation. Like maybe a wine with a blend of the crisp Sauvignon Blanc, the aromatic Viognier and the noble Gewurztraminer. The IGP regions which grant some flexibility in winemaking should be the maverick winemaker’s paradise.

Last but not the least and irrespective of above classes –

Sincere winemaker–  his wines would reflect the sincerity, dedication and hard work in making of the wine which may be of any price range or the brand.

These are some wine musings. Views and own experiences are welcome. Cheers!


A Rendezvous with CDP

Dark was the bar and spicy the wine. Ofcourse I’m talking about Chateauneuf-du-Pape (CDP). Dim lights in the Blue Bar at Taj Palace, New Delhi prevented me from seeing the colour of the wine, so much was upto the nose & palate to know the wine. First few sips conjured up the word ‘moderate’ – but hey this was CDP – this should be anything but moderate. So I did what all wine aficionados do when in doubt – I let it decant in the glass for half hour…and Bang !! The wine exploded with pronounced aromas & flavours of black fruit, pungent spices and prominent oak. All this supported by a high alcohol content sent an immidiate signal to brain saying “Happiness”. Thank stars I was not driving home that night 😉😊



Since I stay in wine country I get to try a lot of wine varietals” says Sandeep Sinha – my friend from high school who stays in California. In the pic is a 100% Mourvedre wine which he relished recently.

Mourvedre is a red grape varietal which ripens fully only in hottest sites. It plays an important role in adding richness, colour and complexity to blends. We all know of the legendary GSM (Grenache, Syrah & Mourvedre) blends from southern France.

When fully ripened it can develop gamey, savoury aromas that are sought by many.

The one in the pic is a 100% Mourvedre which comes from vineyards in Contra Costa County, CA where many of the vines are 80 to 100+ years old.

These ancient vines are low yielding and produce a Mourvedre of intensity and richness (15.5% ABV) which display flavours of plum, chocolate and a bit of oak.

“To give an Indian twist I paired this wine with a Mumbai style spicy misal vada pao – which worked wonderfully” says Sinha on the wine – food pairing.