Tuscany Wine

Red wine bottle and glass on table in vineyard Tuscany Italy

Tuscany Red

There are numerous varieties of red wines produced in Tuscany; we’ll go through a few of the very best of the best. Tuscany produces some excellent world-famous wines through to exceptional quality fine wines, from Chianti to Bolgheri and everything in-between. Exploring Tuscan reds is to explore Tuscany itself, and that is what we will do.

The Sangiovese grape, well established in the wines of Tuscany, is unique due to the variations in flavors and aromas that can be vastly different when alternate methods of wine-making are used, qualities that may not exist otherwise in other grapes and wine production. The variation in the grape’s flavors can range from tart/cherry like combinations through to vegetable tasting notes such as red peppers and tomatoes. The grape has a superior versatility, due to its high tannin and acidity, great for local winemakers.

For a clear understanding of the sheer magnitude of dominance, the Sangiovese grape accounts for 80% of all wines produced in Tuscany in red grape production with almost all using Sangiovese. White wine is produced using the Vernaccia grape, though these are so incredibly local (known as hyper-local styles) that they are rarely the topic of discussion outside of Italy.

Chianti

The wine produced here in the Chianti area is the very best Italy has to offer, often described as ‘the most Italian wine’ which really goes to show the true nature of the world-renowned wine. Also known to be expectational as a food wine, the pole position in food accompaniment is seen alongside traditional Tuscan delicacies such as cold meats and pecorino cheese. The well aging Sangiovese, Tuscany’s signature grape is what makes this wine so unique and the key ingredient in a course, tannin, and tart wine. Full bodied and refined you can step it up and have a taste of the prestigious DOCG classification wine of which you certainly won’t regret.

Various flavors can be taken from the wines produced in Chianti, from fruity to earthy, a genuinely complex combination is offered for a balanced wine. Flavors include red fruits, herbs, and tobacco with a ruby red color and flowery aroma. Prices can also vary as much as the flavor from low to high.

Brunello di Montalcino

As the name suggests, this wine is solely produced in the area of Montalcino (Siena) and is another of Tuscany’s offerings considered one of Italy’s top red wines. Brunello di Montalcino is made using 100% Sangiovese, having an incredibly long lifespan the wine is only slightly tannic though full-bodied robust. Flavor profiles include: sour cherry, red pepper, vanilla, flake and oregano with another ruby red appearance smells of spices and tobacco. This combination leads to a juicy and spicy complexation that only improves with age. This style of flavoring and aroma pairs beautifully with rich foods such as red meat and aged cheese for a delightful companion to an Italian meal. However, it is also a brilliant meditative wine that can be drunk without food for company.

In comparison to Chianti, you may want to drink this wine a little more sparingly as the prices range from high to very high, you will be repaid with an excellent quality of wine and an experience to remember, but it goes without saying that this is a special occasion wine.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Another wine with the apt name describing its only area of production (the town of Montepulciano) with the difference that this wine only requires a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes used. This is a wine with a long and beautiful history enjoyed throughout the centuries by popes and nobles alongside ordinary people. With an elegant and medium bodied complexation, this wine is genuinely worthy of aging and has a two-year minimum aging requirement in the winery.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has a more modest flavor profile than other wines in this area, but non the less still has plenty to offer. Flavors usually experienced are strawberry, cherry, tannic and tea leaf with deep dark red coloring and aromas of dark cherry and plum. The pricing also typically ranges in the modest (modestly high) range, not usually as expensive as Brunello di Montalcino though.

Through the ages

Wine production in Tuscany is ancient and can more than reply on historical traditions to uphold quality winemaking processes. Few can compare to the magnificence of one of the most loved parts of Italy by wine lovers across the world. Grapes have been harvested in abundance for nearly three thousand years in Tuscany and have since been the most trusted crop for continued cash flow in the area.

However, wines from Tuscany has never been as popular and mutually loved across the globe as it is today. Production may be less than it was just 50 years ago, but due to recent advances in technology and understanding of winemaking, the quality produced here has never been so great and will no doubt be the reasoning behind its ever-increasing popularity.

The last word in Italian Red

The 2010 Nottola Anterivo, one of Tuscany’s most sophisticated yet sturdy wines will find itself close to the hearts of those partial to tannins; an enriching wine offering wrapped up in a great deal. Falling right in the between the lines of not too sweet nor dry and full of smell structured vanilla notes to the point of almost complete change as the wine has chance to aerate, but always interesting however it lands.

This is another wine that lands well with rich red meats cooked with fresh tomato sauce. Aged cheeses also pair well for a light-hearted meal full of intrigue and incredible aroma. Tuscany is the pride and joy of Italy, the last word in Italian Red and those who have not yet fallen under its spell, once discovered will find themselves taken aback with the region’s delightful takes on the Sangiovese grape.

United Kingdom Current Wine Synopsis

Red wine

The British wine industry focusses on four regions, English wine, Scottish wine, Welsh wine, and overall British wine. The UK is at the heart of the global wine industry, it’s the sixth largest wine market across the globe and the second largest trader, contributing over £17 billion to the UK economy. That being said the United Kingdom consumes a vast amount of wine; however, consumption of domestically produced wine only accounts for around 1% with western European and Australasian wine being far more popular.

England

However, possibly due to the effects of global warming, the UK has seen an increase in climate temperature making wine production far more commonplace within the United Kingdom. The warmest of the UK’s climate can be found in southern England in counties such as Kent, Essex, and Sussex. Due to these counties’ warmer climates, they have in turn become the larger produces of British wine, this has only been within the last couple of decades. The vineyards that are seeing increasing success have honed their focus on white and sparkling wines rather than red, more varieties of these can be produced due to the drier and moderately warmer conditions within these counties.

Scotland

In contrast to above Scotland has not seen success for its wine production, 2012 saw Scotland’s first vineyard open, and its first ever home-grown wine tasted in 2015. For clarification, England and Wales have operated vineyards since Roman occupation. The Scottish wine produced in 2015 by Christopher Trotter was not received well by experts considering it “undrinkable.”

The UK’s most northerly grapevine located on the Shetland islands does not lead to wine anymore and is used solely for grapes to be eaten and grape jellies.

Wales

According to the latest Wine Standards Board review, Wales currently has 22 vineyards in operation, these produce over 100,000 bottles of white wine with a small percentage of reds. Wales has a warmer climate than Scotland, but marginally colder than southern England so fall behind on the quantity, and quality according to expert reviews. Though Wales has vineyards dating back to Roman times similar to England and the countries, have walked together for some time. Since the late 1970s vineyard plantations have migrated to the southern end of wales, most likely in an attempt to grow in a remotely warmer climate and since then South Wales has seen the majority of vineyard plantations in Wales.

Grape varieties in the UK

The UK makes use of various grape varieties to produce its wine, with just a few notable types making up the majority. Currently, the most popular varieties include Seyval Blanc which is the most popular of all, Reichensteiner, Müller-Thurgau, and Bacchus; however, the latter two have since declined in popularity despite Müller-Thurgau being one of the first widespread commercial wine grapes to be grown in the UK during the 20th century. As of 2006, just over 5000 hectolitres of red wine were made, with over 20,000 being white, in other words, 75% of UK wine production since 2006 has been white or sparkling wine. As mentioned, there are a great variety of grapes used for white wine in the UK, and others include well known Chardonnay as well as; Madeleine Angevine, Ortega, and Huxelrebe.

UK wine in the 21st century

There are various reasons for an increased demand for local British wines from consumers, from a new generation of carbon footprint awareness seeing a desire for locally sourced wine cutting down on food miles to connecting with the products they buy. Further to this, the UK’s wine image was given a new lease of life when HRH the Duchess of Cornwall became the president of the United Kingdom Vineyards Association in 2011, and in 2012 there was also a boost for English wine during the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

The problem has been in fulfilling the increased demand for locally sourced wine and the variability of quality has led to an inability to consistently market quality British wines which consumers trust. This is primarily due to the variability in which farmers arable to produce stable quality wine in the conditions they have, it is for example far more accessible to produce steady quality wheat in variable climates in Southern England, but such climates led to fantastic wine production in 2006 but extremely poor in 2008. However, farmers are beginning to understand the cycle on grape quality over time usually seeing 3-4 year rotation.

A summary of a dramatic last 30 years in UK winemaking as seen England and Wales accumulating over 700 vineyards (taking up 6200 acres of space) and over 150 wineries producing internationally award-winning wines of all categories. In 2017 the UK produced nearly 6 million bottles of sparkling, white, rose and red wines.

What’s next?

From the understanding that farmers are beginning to gather, we can probably expect a good product is coming out of the 2019 English vineyard output, not only due to the unusually warm climate that the British Isles have experienced during the first quarter of 2019. However, the expectation would be that unless another unusually warm spell appears in 2020, we should see a more mediocre product. Though due to the far superior profits from wine per acre in the UK, farmers won’t be giving up any time soon.

We can expect production to increase as does popularity for British wines, and polls suggest that rosé and sparkling (as well as a sparkling rosé) will lead the way to the UK’s most famous wines. I would also predict some outstanding quality wines to be produced from 2019 crops, probably a more superior wine than we will see in quite a while. Innovation and educational improvements in this sector should make UK wine an exciting space to watch.

Single Malts Whisky

Martini based whiskey cocktail mixed with beer at bar

Scottish whiskey and its regions.

Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions as a country; they consisted of: The Highlands, The lowlands, The Isle of Islay and Campbelltown. However, due to the vast array of distilleries, the Speyside regions is also now recognized by the SWA as a region in its own right. Whisky which also finds production on the Scottish Islands. Currently, there are six distinct whisky-producing regions.

Production of Scotch is not unlike the production of wine in that the region that it is produced has a significant impact on the flavor and smell of the end product. Scotland is only a small country, though the differences in where production is undertaken can still impact aromas and flavors from region to region. For example, a coastal or island single malt will taste very different from an inland single malt such as the massively dense Speyside.

The three main distilleries to focus on are The Lowlands, Speyside, and The Highlands. Therefore, we will discuss all regions but will primarily focus on these three who also have some of the most world-famous distilleries producing some of the best Scotch available.

The Lowlands

The Lowlands are the southernmost region of Scotland and the second biggest whisky region in terms of the area that is covered. The area covered includes Glasgow and Edinburgh and meets with the border of the Highlands using the old border system. Thus, any area covered which meets the border with England is classified as The Lowlands.

Currently, there are only five distilleries that remain in operation including Auchentoshan, Bladnoch, Annadale, Glenkinchie and Ailsa Bay which operates from the Girvan Distillery. There are a couple more distilleries which are still yet to release their first Scotch. Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie are the most renowned of the Lowlands distilleries, but the others have still seen great success.

Each region has its distinct flavors and aromas, and The Lowlands are no exception to this rule. Typical Lowland flavors often include grass, honeysuckle, cream, toffee, toast, and cinnamon. Though other flavors are known to be produced in the area, these are the most common place amongst Lowland distilleries. Whiskys here tend to be lighter and gentle lacking peatiness, now solely used by the Auchentoshan distillery the region was once known for its triple distillation method. Furthermore, due to the central location Lowland Whiskies have seen great success within the malt whisky line.

Speyside

Speyside got its name from the River Spey which cuts through the region allowing ideal water supply to run through the regional distilleries. Located in the north-east part of Scotland Speyside was once considered part of the Highlands and is only due to the vast quantity of distilleries that it was officially recognized as its own region.

This region offers the most significant number of distillers, not just of the three primary areas, but of all of them. The Speyside distillers include The Glenlivet, The Macallan, Speyburn, Glenfiddich, Glenglassaugh, Glenfarclas, Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore, Cardhu, Aberlour, The Glenrothes, and Balvenie. Having the most significant number of distilleries and also one of the smallest regions means Speyside is a particularly dense location of distilleries. In fact, with around 105 total distillers it is nearly half the total of all areas.

Of all that has been listed above the more famous Speyside whiskeys are The Macallan, Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich. Even someone who has a relative disinterest in whiskeys probably recognizes Glenfiddich being the world’s number one best-selling single malt. It could be due to the incredible water supply offered by the River Spey, but the flavors and aromas here often have a much fruitier structure to them. Typical Speyside flavors are: apple, vanilla, oak, malt, nutmeg, and dried fruits. Regardless of the reasoning and process behind this, the full range of characteristic flavors offered alongside little to no peat means Speyside offers new adventures to the whisky world to discover their favorite tastes and single malts.

The Highlands

Stealing the light from The Lowlands, The Highlands is Scotland’s largest region in both area and whisky production and by a wide margin. Covering areas anywhere from the north of Glasgow to Thurso in the north of Scotland. Due to this incredible scale of the area, it is hard to put a particular style on the whisky of this region. However, there are plenty of distilleries in operation throughout this space.

Some distilleries The Highlands have to offer include Glendronach, Old Pulteney, Oban, Glenmorangie, Dalmore, Glen Ord, Tullibardine, Tomatin, Ben Nevis, Balblair, Aberfeldy and Edradour. With the most famous being Dalmore and Glenmorangie, in total there are over 25 distilleries within The Highlands. This is hardly a dent in the total number and doesn’t come close to the number in Speyside, though The Highlands trump them all in production quantity and regional geographic variety.

The regional variety and vaster land masses mean there should also be more variety in the flavors and aromas offered by Highland Scotch. Typical Highland flavors include fruit cake, malt, oak, heather, dried fruit, and smoke. In other words, The Highlands offer some similar characteristics to other inland distilleries though offering a few exclusive differences. In the northern parts of the region, you will find full-bodied single malts with a sweet and rich character, lighter and fruitier offerings can be found in the east. The Highlands have had a significant influence over whiskeys produced throughout Scotland.

World Renowned

Scottish whisky is renowned throughout the world, and you will struggle to visit a city in the world that doesn’t offer a glass of the northern British nectar. Every part of Scotland has its whisky powerhouse, some use old style distillation methods, and others have moved on with the times. What is clear, however, is that Scotland has produced some of the world’s best whiskeys for hundreds of years and you can tell by trying for yourself that this is going to be the case for an incredibly long time.

Ireland, USA, and Japan have made their own paths into the whisky world, but notable flavors and aromas that can only be legitimately found from regions within Scotland go to show the importance of not just the above three regions but the impact every region has on each style of whisky.

A Sketch of Indian cuisine and Wine Now and Then

A happy Indian family

A Sketch of Indian cuisine and Wine Now and Then

Overview

India as a country is diverse in nature and its diversity has brought out various cuisines from its vastness of culture. The culinary identity of India portrays its different kinds of food and tastes from its regional to local distinctiveness. Due to its immense historical significance, the country continues to experience a mixture in the style of food-making. Indian cuisines and dishes are mostly influenced by traditional and religious practices, rulers from the past and trade partners. There are several dishes that are a part of its identity, which involve the country’s unique spices and they are authentic regarding the local and regional factors of the country.

The History of Food stretches from Mughal Indian taste to the South Indian cooking. With few of its regions having the foreign influence strongly rooted, the country has profoundly shaped its developments in each of its cuisines. People who invaded the country had brought a lot with them and those have remained in India. The Arabs brought Coffee, asafoetida powder, the Portuguese brought tomatoes, chillies, and this is how the cuisines have created their own flavours all around the country. Although the Mughals had a lot to do with bringing in the Persian influences, they left their Mughlai food in the northern part of the country, their Biriyanis, and Tandooris have always found a special place in Indian cuisine.

Let’s address Indian special dishes from the different geographies before we tie them into the wine. Indian food is famous all around the world today, and one can explore and experiment in using spices when it comes to making good Indian style food.

Vindaloo from Goa 

Vindaloo is an Indian dish that is very popular in Goa. It is originally a spicy dish and is prepared with the choice of meat that you like. One has to select the kind of meat that they want to make this curry out of, though it is generally made with Pork as the choice of meat. The name Vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese term Vinha d’alhos meaning meat marinated in garlic wine. The dish is mainly made by soaking the meat in red wine, which is a part of the pre-cooking process. As we have gathered that this one is a spicy dish, there are particular spices involved to give it the taste that it needs. The Vindaloo can be tried with both rice and with Rotis or Chapatis (Indian bread) and adding red wine can certainly soften the meat and add an extra flavour to it.

Mutton Kadai

Mutton Kadai is a very popular dish in all of India. People can eat this one for both lunch and dinner, and the dish goes very well with Chapatis and Rotis (Indian bread). This mutton delicacy is a Mughal influence that is indeed mouth-watering and made rich in spices at the same time. The recipe has existed in the country for a long time, and people have brought out their version of this dish from different regions. One can savour this delicacy with Jeera Rice (Cumin Seed Rice) and Butter Naan (Indian Bread). This is one of the very regularly made dishes, and this is very much available in restaurants all over the country. The dish can be prepared from moderate to extremely spicy. Marinating the mutton with red wine is very commonly used with the idea of adding extra taste.

Chicken Tikka 

Chicken tikka is a classical delicacy. If you are looking for an excellent Indian-Mughlai lunch or dinner, you can simply go for the Chicken Tikka, which is a gravy dish, made out of rich spices. The Chicken tikka is very easy to make. There are different versions and styles that one can cook it and it is mainly made in the tandoor, a clay oven. You can also choose boneless chicken with it to give the tenderness in the dish. If you are seeking to taste authentic Indian food with moderate spicy flavour, the tikka is just what will go best with warm Pita bread. It can be cooked spicy as well when adding significant amounts of specific spices.

Malai Kofta

Malai kofta is a very famous vegetarian dish that is regarded as a primary course to the country. It is made out of creamy spices and Malai Balls that are made out of Paneer and is purely vegetarian. It is exclusively made of Yogurt, onions, dry fruit and very importantly fresh cream and tomatoes. Malai kofta is a less spicy dish, and it can be savoured with Parathas (Indian flour bread) and other sorts of Indian bread.

Indian wines and their pair-up with Indian food

Vineyards require a specific climate to exist, and the ones in India range from the North-western state of Punjab to the Southern part of Tamil Nadu. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana are mainly considered to be the largest and best wine-producing states in India. Wines are liked, and sale and consumption has been increasing in India due to a rise in the incomes level.

The following Indian wines are actually of great quality and would do well with Indian food pairing and obviously because of the spices will do better as a pairing than water as they act as a solvent to the spices in the dishes.

Grover Zampa LaReserve 

This Indian wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and it is quite famous nationally. All the grapes are sources within the Karnataka region in India. This wine will do with Tandoori chicken and other non-vegetarian Indian curries.

Sula Chenin Blanc Reserve

The Nashik region is another very well-known wine region in India loved by the locals. This limited edition Chenin Blanc from Sula has  wonderful tones of honey and melon and retains the grape’s acidity fairly well. This wine will do very well with chicken Tikka Masala.

Myra Reserve Shiraz 

A great quality Shiraz with a blend of beautiful aromas of a spice and oak, this wine has made great inroad in India and can easily match medium spicy food as well as Indian seafood cuisines.

Sula Brut

This sparkling wine is a blend of Viognier, Pinot Noir, Sultana, Shiraz and Chenin Blanc. The wine goes well with most  Indian cuisine especially light foods such as Dimsum and seafood as well.

Sula Zinfandel Rosé

This Zinfandel rosé is quite light and fruity with a light alcohol content. The wine will pair well with spicy Mutton Kadai dishes.

Current Most Prevalent Grapes Grown in India:

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is probably the white grape that could eventually define quality wine production in India.  Furthermore, in the Nashik region tends to currently be creating the best examples and achieving the best awards.  Planting will continue to increase not just because of its awards but also because it is a natural food paring to many Indian national dishes like Mutton Kadai and Chicken Tikka as well as light salads; its versatility may be the perfect match for the versatility of Indian foods.

Grenache/Syrah

This blend combination from the Dindori Estate in the Maharashtra region in India is showing some great potential as well. IT is also commonly used throughout India generally speaking. This blend in this southern region is also blended with red berries which tends to add the sugar structure that does wonders with Maharashtrian cuisines.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is also making inroads in the Maharashtra Region. Again popular in the Indian culture, the grape may often be blended with red berries and passion fruits to produce its final non-traditional wines. The wines are used in the preparation of various dishes like Chicken Tandoori and other Mutton curries.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is a grape variety found in the western region of India and is used to produce premium wines. This variety gives tropical fruit flavour in the wines and goes exceptionally well with Indian Chicken and Mutton curries.

Shiraz

The grape is again prevalent in the production of quality red wines. Shiraz usually will go well with Indian Chicken Barbeque dishes.

Conclusion

India continues to maintain its class system even when it comes to the culinary including indulgences of spices and quality of both food and wine. It certainly has made a good mark in exporting its native cuisines throughout the world. The country’s diversity and constant population growth have made it an ever increasing diverse cuisine while still maintaining its origins. Every cuisine in the country has created their mark, and with that, there are great experiments that go one with Indian food and its various cuisines. Indian winemaking although still lagging in overall quality, certainly keep the local cuisines in mind as they try to create both wines for the locals that will be appreciated and find a balance with its cuisines while even more trying to find an export market. The Indian wine industry although very much in its infancy, will find it very difficult to strike a good balance between quality, meeting eating habits locally while still retaining quality production for the export markets. The coming decades will show if the Indian wine production is up to this very challenging task.