Those of us that patronize finer Indian restaurants in the county know that there is a wine list available, but nothing as extensive as one may expect for a restaurant of its caliber. It's mostly because India doesn't have much of an alcoholic tradition, which would be expected in a country with religions (Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduisim) that traditionally frown upon booze. Except whiskey, damn allegiance to British pomp and circumstance...
But as India has become more Westernized, alcohol has also become trendy, especially wine. And that's where Rajeev Samant and his fellow vintners in the country's Nashik Valley hope to step in and create an industry popular not only in the subcontinent, but worldwide.
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Samat is the head of Sula Vineyards, and he just got a writeup in Businessweek where he was able to make the case for Indian wine. "Until 5 years ago, if a woman drank in the movies she was either a fallen woman or a vamp," Samant told the magazine. "Now a glass of red in a film is a cool accessory. It's socially acceptable and sophisticated."
The Nashik Valley has the advantage of topography in growing vines, being it's at an altitude of 2,000 feet and not getting too baking during the summer. And Samant's vines are actually from Sonoma, smuggled into the country in a duffel bag around 1999
"The main Sula style is fruit-driven, with bright acidity and little oak that seem to accompany Indian food best," wrote the Businessweek reporter, who added, "I was surprised, but definitely not stunned by the level of quality." Hmmm...seems maybe Royal Khyber and the Indian Irvine joints should carry the brand...