‘Indian wines are definitely improving’

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‘Indian wines are definitely improving’

‘Indian wines are definitely improving’

‘Indian wines are definitely improving’: We speak to wine curator Luca Bernardini about the evolving culture of drinking wine in our country vis-a-vis Italy, and more

The reds, the whites, and the sparkling – we love our wines, don’t we? Italian food and wine expert Luca Bernardini was recently in town for a special dinner hosted by the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IICCI) as part of the True Italian Taste project. He took the guests through an enogastronomic epicurean journey with select wines and recipes from different regions of Italy. DT Next had a chat with Bernardini, who promotes the knowledge of Italian wine in India through wine tastings, master classes and dinners.

Tell us about your Chennai experience.

This is the third dinner that I will be conducting in Chennai. It is always a pleasure to come back to this city. There is a lot of interest in Italian cuisine and wine. Definitely, I find good vibes here.

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You studied philosophy and history but you curate wines now.

I focused my studies in aesthetic and food history, and also in Paris I studied anthropology from a food perspective. Then I worked for a few years at Slow Food, an eco-gastronomic organisation that aims to promote traditional and sustainable food (not only Italian) all over the world. This is why I am interested in wine as it is considered a fundamental part of the meal in Mediterranean Europe culture. I’m not a sommelier, I don’t merely describe a wine. My approach is to go beyond the glass of wine, describing the producer, the territory, the history and the culture that stays behind.

Tell us about Italian wines. What’s your favourite?

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In Italy there are more than 400 varieties of grapes used to make wine. This incredible biodiversity in the wine system makes Italy almost a unique case in the world. In fact we say, “the other countries love their wines, Italy loves its grapes”. Among the red wines, I really appreciate Amarone della Valpolicella, for white wine I would say Fiano and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. For Sparkling wine, it is Franciacorta. By the way, if you ask me the same question in a couple of months, probably the answers would be completely different. Our taste is always in movement.

How different is the culture of drinking wine in Italy compared to India?

Drinking wine in Italy (like Spain and France for instance) is a very normal thing. We drink casually. In fact we have a saying, “a meal without wine is called breakfast”. Wine is historically a part of our culture for more than two thousand years. In India wine is relatively a new thing. It’s not so popular but the interest is increasing. I think the culture of whiskey and beer in India is still strong, but as I said before, our taste is always in movement. Also, with the content of alcohol not high like the spirits, wine can also make the difference in alcoholic beverages.

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‘Indian wines are definitely improving’

What’s your take on Indian wines?

Of course I have tasted Indian wines, and it is definitely improving. My favourite Indian wine is a sparkling wine, Casablanca from Good Drop, Nashik.

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Your favourite Indian food?

I really like the Goan Xacuti masala, especially with crabs. Then Dosa, Koliwada prawns and the famous Tandoori chicken always with butter garlic naan.

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