June 6th, 2016 by Magandeep SINGH

Wine Taxes IndiaSo the last time I broached this subject was a good few years ago. The comments poured in heavy requesting for the promised sheet with the duty calculation formula. I diligently sent it around but a few months down it was outdated. I promised a new one shortly but then fell off the map. I resurfaced only to find that people were still requesting an updated duty calculation sheet. Clearly India, or rather, the potential of a virgin Indian wine market has a certain continuing charm. Well, I can tell you one thing, like many a skyline, it looks better from a distance.  Read more of this article »

Posted in Gastronomy + Travel, Wines Tagged with: , , , , ,

March 10th, 2016 by Magandeep SINGH

Shakespeare-WineWhat’s in a word, a lot if you are trying to describe that “tingling sensation” on the tongue which was then followed by that milky thing and then tasted like that fruit which you just can’t put your palate on now. I am sure you have faced that dilemma in other fields too; when you couldn’t quite find the word to describe the situation, or pair of legs for that matter!
Well anatomy we shall handle another day but here are a few wine terms just in case you feel tongue-tied! I have also included some antonyms:
Acidic: Denotes high acid content in a wine, which makes them seem super sour, or tingly on the tongue. When used in a derogatory way, we may term the wine “Tart”. Acid is not a bad term but avoid using it, prefer to say “Racy” or “Crisp”. The opposite would be “Soft” or “Creamy”.
Aged/Evolved: The natural process which affects all aspects of a wine as it is held in barrels or bottles. Primary fruity aromas die and secondary dry fruit aromas and Common wine termsearthy and leathery aromas may evolve. The colour fades too. Any wine showing such signs is an aged wine. Ageing is not always a good thing; sometimes an aged wine may well be a dead wine! The opposite is a “Young” vibrant wine.
Tannic: That natural red wine constituent which gives the wine its astringency. It is the same compound as caffeine and it can be detected as a furry sensation which coats the tongue and inner walls of our mouth. Whites also can have some, mostly if oak-aged. If controlled, it adds a beautiful dimension to any wine. Out of balance, it is like trying to ride a hedgehog, blindfolded, through a sawdust storm with your tongue sticking out.
Finish: The lingering taste which persists once we have spat or swallowed the wine. To me, this is the most important thing in a wine (or any beverage). A pleasant finish, that is, one which is not mouth-jarring, or conversation-interrupting, is the sure-shot way to tell the ones with pedigree from the plebeian!
Robust: A wine which packs a punch, the Thwack! and the Ka-Pow! as last seen in Adam West and Burt Ward films (remember, Batman & Robin?) Normally they taste better with food but people who can do push-ups with their tongue (amongst other things) flaunt such “Jammy’ wines as an ‘evening apero’! They are not much for “Light” wine snobberyor “Soft” wines.
Rounded: A “Balanced” wine, which has all the constituents – attack, acid, tannins, aromas, flavour, finish, house rent allowance – in measured, correct levels. It is not “Over-powering” or “Mono-dimensional”. Rounded wines are more domestic pets and less dominatrix beasts.
Fruity: All wine is from grapes so when we say a wine is fruity it’s actually a tutti-frutti statement! The thing is that un-oaked (or mildly oaked, or young wines) may display a lot more juiciness and fruit flavour and these are termed as Fruity wines.
Oaky/Nutty: Ageing in oak evokes certain nutty, woody notes in a wine – in both whites and reds. This process also softens the acids and the tannins and makes the wine seem more complex and evolved than it chronologically is. Hence the film the “The ‘Nutty’ Professor”! OK, that was a bad one, even for me.
Dry: A wine with very little residual sugar, about less than 10gms/l. Most wines on any wine list are dry – from subtly dry to very dry, from bone dry to “This-won’t-go-down-my-throat-till-I-down-some-water”! Wines with more sugar, which will taste sweet even when sipped alongside kheer, or fruit custard, are called “Sweet” or “Dessert” wines.
Bouquet: The term used to describe the sum of all aromas in a wine. A bouquet can be fruity, floral, toasty… Even Juhu Chowpatty during a low tide has one, albeit a stomach-revoltingly unpleasant one.
Closed: A wine with no aromas. It may be too young (in which case, airing will bring out the aromas), or spoilt, or just plainly a result of bad-winemaking.
Fat/Fleshy/Chewy: Unlike the models of today, this denotes a wine with good body, aka “Full-Bodied” as against the contrary style of “Lean” wines. Yes, you may even add “Anorexic”, I don’t mind.
Heavy/Hot: A wine with high-alcohol which burns as you swallow it, even when at the right service temperature.
Off: A wine gone bad, aka “Corked” or, like your lover, “Tainted”. This is usually cork-induced combined with bad storage.

Hope that helps. Sorry if I went overboard with my silly puns. Oh, you never noticed?! Nevermind…

The funniest book about wine tasting terms

The funniest book about wine tasting terms

Posted in Gastronomy + Travel, Wines Tagged with: , , , , ,

June 27th, 2013 by Magandeep SINGH

Less duty = More wine ?

First of all, thank you everyone for the overwhelming response to the previous entry; it wasn’t the number of people who responded that has me beaming but the fact that everyone was polite and said, ‘please’. Mums the world over would be so happy.

Now onwards to the hot topic of the moment…

So a recent article in a newspaper sparked much interest because it divulged that India was considering lowering customs duty to 40%. The EU wants 30% but hey who better at bargaining then the Indians. And yet, in spite of such a promising future, I am not entirely excited. Here’s why.

Read more of this article »

Posted in Wines Tagged with: ,

June 2nd, 2012 by Magandeep SINGH

A small set of awesomeness!

So, today was day one of Vievinum (actually it was preview of a preview but hey, I was there, I clocked time, so it’s a day) and I had a chance to indulge in some an absolutely fantastic tasting. The Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), has a level of organisation that could make Swiss clocks work hard to mark time. But more than just punctual, they have an uncanny ability to be precise, comprehensive, and yet very efficiently concise. Nothing is left to chance, not even the weather one is often tempted to imagine, and attendees can devote their entire time and attention to one solo task: tasting and learning about the wines of Austria. Read more of this article »

Posted in Wines Tagged with: , , ,

May 24th, 2012 by Magandeep SINGH


I would like to prize myself on having some superpower but, short of the ability to fly or to run through walls, I do reserve a small amount of vanity in reassuringly believing that I can make certain predictions about the future. I may not give the best of soothsayers a run for their money, but when it comes to fields of my work and interest, I would be among the first to show up when they ask for crystal-ball volunteers.

One such prediction was when I had returned to India and tasted the first crop of wines that was coming out of our local wineries. My first reaction was to ask my travel agent about one-way flights to Europe. A certain winemaker had even suggested that, but not too politely if I may add.

Read more of this article »

Posted in Wines Tagged with: ,

August 12th, 2009 by Magandeep SINGH
Sweet Sweet Yummy Yummy Toddy!

Sweet Sweet Yummy Yummy Toddy!

A clear light white drink; harvested early morning by slashing the bark of palm trees and collecting the sap overnight. The aromas are intriguing yet inviting. Soft and a bit reminiscent of fermenting coconut water (maybe because it isn’t too far from it). A little meaty too with lots of green bark character.
The taste is distinct and perhaps not the most given although it does grow on you and a couple of glasses later, you would be forgiven for thinking of it as weird cider. It is mostly semi-sweet at this point, with a hint of prickle on the tongue, somewhat nutty (although i don’t know if Date Palm Toddy would too exhibit this note; what i am trying is Coconut Palm Toddy.) and shows some nice lactic creaminess. The finish is definitely cider-like but minus all or any finesse whatsoever.

Read more of this article »

Posted in Gastronomy + Travel Tagged with: