Say ‘Namaste’ to Indian Wine!

This first ever Wine Surprise blog entry is about wines from India. Surprise! Few wine drinkers I’ve met realize that India is producing noteworthy wines. During a recent trip to Mumbai, I tasted an impressive array of delicious options. Three of the larger producers are Grover Zampa, Fratelli, and Sula. Each has been directly influenced by European and American wine-making traditions (French, Italian, and Californian, respectively), but the wines are uniquely Indian. Some tasters might find the varieties lacking in “typicity,” but my impression is that the wines are built for Indian food. As they should be. Indian red wines are suited for spicy food, for example, and since even McDonald’s doesn’t serve beef on the subcontinent, enormously tannic wines are rarely called for.

 It’s Italian-inspired (70% Sangiovese), but made for masala instead of marinara. The producer Fratelli makes "Sette" wines with the best 1% of grapes from each vintage.

It’s Italian-inspired (70% Sangiovese), but made for masala instead of marinara. The producer Fratelli makes "Sette" wines with the best 1% of grapes from each vintage.

 Fratelli's Sette paired well with this spicy lamb dish.

Fratelli's Sette paired well with this spicy lamb dish.

I especially enjoyed a sparkling Chenin Blanc from Zampa as well as the "Sette" Super Tuscan from Fratelli (Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon) and a Merlot/Malbec blend from Sula. These are all wines I’d be happy to drink again in any country. The Indian populace is still developing a taste for wine (with no disrespect intended toward Kingfisher beer, it is nice to have other options for Tandoori and the like) so production volumes may not increase dramatically anytime soon. But with large international producers like Chandon investing in the country’s market, it seems pretty clear there will be more to show from this high-potential region of the wine world.

 Major producers (like Chandon) are coming to India. Maybe you should, too.

Major producers (like Chandon) are coming to India. Maybe you should, too.

 My top pick for Indian wine (so far) is this sparkling Chenin Blanc. But WHERE does it get cool enough to grow these high-acid grapes?

My top pick for Indian wine (so far) is this sparkling Chenin Blanc. But WHERE does it get cool enough to grow these high-acid grapes?

 Sparkling Chenin with this spicy chicken was a wonderful COMBINATION..

Sparkling Chenin with this spicy chicken was a wonderful COMBINATION..

The presence of international powerhouse Chandon isn't the only sign of traditional wine region involvement in this new and exciting market. Celebrity wine consultant Michel Rolland is also getting into the act with Grover Zampa. Which I take to mean that there's some major investment happening inside the country along with what's coming from elsewhere. Since India is outside the traditional geographical wine zone (typically between the 30th and 50th latitudinal parallels), there are likely to be some significant challenges to ultra premium wine production. But we've seen other "new world" wine regions redefine what was once considered possible so I look forward to following the progress of the latest upstart wine producing region.

 Michel rolland's involvement is highlighted PROMINENTLY by producer Grover Zampa.

Michel rolland's involvement is highlighted PROMINENTLY by producer Grover Zampa.

 A lovely low-tannin red blend from large producer Sula.

A lovely low-tannin red blend from large producer Sula.


We don’t make wine in India, but do love a good wine surprise. Have one to share? Email us!