Winemaking is second nature for Mr.Abhay Kewadkar. A veteran winemaker, consultant and wine connoisseur credited for revolutionising the nascent but fast-evolving wine market in India, he has over the decades collaborated with brands like Champagne India, Grover Vineyards, Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Mumms, Barton et Guestier and United Spirits to name a few. In a passionate pursuit of his entrepreneurial ambitions as the Managing Director of Tetrad Global Beverages, he has a new portfolio of offerings which he thinks “will transform the wine drinking culture in India very soon.” Excerpts from a conversation with The Chef Post…over a glass of merlot!
How are you planning to increase the popularity of wine amongst millennial Indians and erase the premiumness that keeps out a vast segment of consumers?
Our brand tagline is ‘It’s never too early”. So the first messaging is that one can have wine anytime as against the whisky consumption pattern which is normally after 8 PM. In order to demystify wines, we have been conducting a lot of tastings with consumer groups, local influencers so that they can take the message out to a wider audience.
Which wines from your portfolio should a newbie try out for the first time?
I would suggest the Early Dark Rose, a fruit forward blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This beautiful salmon pink wine has lots of red fruit aromas like strawberry and raspberry, and is fresh and fruity with a pleasant lingering finish. The perfect wine to be enjoyed chilled as an aperitif anytime of the day. The wine has some residual sugar which is very good for the palate as it balances the acidity. Another wine would be Negrette-Syrah Blend. This blend is being introduced in India for the first time. This brilliant dark red wine which has a bouquet of rich blackberry, red fruits, spices and hints of licorice, is perfect for pairing with grilled food, barbequed meats, pizza, and all things hot and saucy. And it’s perfect for monsoons.
Do Indians prefer wines with a particular flavour/taste profile?
With more and more people travelling, experimenting and trying out new flavours and cuisines, the palate of Indians has evolved over the last few years. But still when it comes to wine, we see a tilt towards fruitier and easy drinking wines over complex flavoured wines. The concept of wine paired with food is still a growing trend in India, and they still prefer having wine on its own as an aperitif. But one of the major shifts we have observed is people buying wine for dinner parties that they are hosting.
How does the weather, soil, growing and harvesting patterns in France impact wines from the different regions that you have been associated with?
This is ideally defined as “Terroir”, the particular identity of the wine (in terms of taste parameters) owing to soil, climate, and wine-making practices allowed including harvesting norms. In France, wine quality and identity is governed by the appellation system. e.g ; In Bordeaux terroir is for grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, while in Burgundy, Terroir is for grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Likewise other regions like Champagne, Rhone and Loire have only particular grapes allowed to be grown. Each variety of grapes makes different styles of wine and even blended wines keep their identity as Blends, which is made from approved varietals only.
What’s your take on sangrias and wine cocktails?
Well I feel wine should be consumed on its own just like a good whiskey which should be ideally had neat. The true flavour of wine in all its glory will only be savoured when you have it without diluting the beverage. Sangrias and cocktails are good for fun, especially for young crowds. It is a good introduction to the category. But I would not make sangria or a cocktail with good quality expensive wines. Any entry level wines can do that job.