Wine! Because no great story started with someone eating a salad!

Benjamin Franklin once famously declared that wine is “constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

Without a doubt, wine is one of the most beloved beverages of all time. It has been hypothesized that early humans climbed trees to pick berries, liked their sugary flavour, and then begun collecting them. After a few days with fermentation setting in, juice at the bottom of any container would begin producing low-alcohol wine. According to this theory, things changed around 10,000-8000 BC with the transition from a nomadic to a sedentism style of living, which led to agriculture and wine domestication.

Wine has long played an important role in religion. Red wine was associated with blood by the ancient Egyptians and was used by both the Greek cult of Dionysus and the Romans in their Bacchanalia; Judaism also incorporates it in the Kiddush and Christianity in the Eucharist.

The first known mention of grape-based wines in India is from the late 4th-century BC writings of Chanakya, the chief minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. In his writings, Chanakya condemns the use of alcohol while chronicling the emperor and his court’s frequent indulgence of a style of wine known as “madhu”.


The range and variety of wines that are available these days, allows you a choice for all occasions. From Reds to White, Sparkling to Dessert wines, we are spoilt for choice. A simple barbecue to a formal wedding party or that lazy Sunday at home with friends, having to choose from your favourites can be quite a task. So here’s a list of some major grape varieties and their common characteristics which will help you choose your favourite wine for your next party:


White Wine grape Varieties:

1. Chardonnay (Shar-doh-nay):

The king of the white grapes- Chardonnay is one of the most popular grape varieties and you will find its name on many labels. Each winery produces its own individual style based on differing fermentation techniques and use of oak barrels to age the wine. Some winemakers prefer not to use oak aging at all (often identified on the label as “unoaked”).

Unoaked Chardonnay Tasting notes:
Dry to slightly off-dry, light to medium bodied, crisp, clean and refreshing. Fruit aromas and flavours include apple, pear, citrus and tropical fruits.

Oaked Chardonnay Tasting notes:
Dry, medium to full-bodied, slightly rich, lightly refreshing to buttery smooth. The bouquet and flavours may include ripe apple, pear, pineapple, melon, fig, oak, spice, vanilla, nut, butter, cream, honey and coffee bean.

2. Riesling (Reez-ling):

Riesling, one of the finest grapes in the world, is able to retain its acidity as it ripens, and is produced in styles ranging from bone dry to honey sweet. If Chardonnay is the king of the white grapes, then surely Riesling must be queen.

Riesling Tasting notes:
Bone dry to sweet, light and delicate to fresh and clean to rich and oily with age. Aromas and flavours of peach, apricot, citrus, tropical, floral, mineral, and steely.

3. Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (Pea-no Gree-gee-o or Pea-no Gree):

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, but stylistically different. Pinot Grigio is a lighter more refreshing style of wine, while Pinot Gris is often a gently perfumed, medium body, slightly rich wine and a typically slightly deeper in colour than most whites

Pinot Grigio Tasting notes:
Dry, light-bodied, refreshing and lively. Green Apple, delicate pear and citrus aromas and flavours.

Pinot Gris Tasting notes:
Dry, medium-bodied, slightly rich and smooth. Aromas and flavours of delicate perfume, melon, pear and spice.

4. Sauvignon Blanc (So-vee-n’yohn Blahn):

If a wine could be referred to as “green” this would be the grape. An aromatic varietal with recognizable “green” aromas.

Sauvignon Blanc Tasting notes:
Dry, light to medium body, with refreshing acidity. Noted for its aroma of grass, gooseberry, bell pepper, asparagus, citrus, herbaceous tones, even tropical fruit, melon and passion fruit in riper styles.

5. Gewurztraminer (Gah-vurts-trah-meener):

Gewurz means perfumed or spicy in German, and traminer is a reference to the town of Tramin in the Italian Tyrol region, where the variety originated.

Gewurztraminer Tasting notes:
Dry, to off-dry, medium-bodied, smooth and slightly rich. Distinctive aromas and flavours of Lychee, fruit, rose petals, rose water, tropical fruit, spice and perfume.


Red Wine grape Varieties:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab-air-nay So-vee-n’yohn):

The king of red grapes. A full-bodied, dry red wine, usually aged for many years in oak barrels. Often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting notes:
Extra-Dry to dry, medium to full-bodied, often aggressive in youth and silky when aged. Bouquet and flavours consisting of Black currant, black pepper, spice, strawberry, oak, cedar, violet and chocolate.

2. Cabernet Franc (Cab-air-nay Frahn):

Rich, expressive flavour, Cabernet Franc is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Cabernet Franc Tasting notes:
Extra-Dry to dry, medium to full-bodied, smooth and fresh to seriously rich with aggressive tannins in youth. Bouquet and flavours of red and black fruit, spice, oak, green pepper, dried leaves, olives, tobacco, earth and herbaceous notes.

3. Merlot (Mair-lo):

Silky with fruity flavours, Merlot is sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to soften the muscle of Cabernet. Mellow, seductive and a much-loved varietal.

Merlot Tasting notes:
Dry, light to medium-bodied, silky and smooth, slightly rich. Expect a bouquet and flavours of plums, red berries, blueberry and spice.

4. Shiraz/ Syrah (shee-rahz/ see-rah):

Oak aged for many months, Shiraz exhibits rich, ripe fruit character with a soft, plush mouth-feel, whereas Syrah is extra-dry with youthful tannins, moderate acidity and notes of wood, and red and black fruit.

Shiraz Tasting notes:
Dry, rich, smooth, full-bodied, with almost sweet, ripe fruit flavours and hints of chocolate.

Syrah Tasting notes:
Extra-dry to dry, medium to full-bodied. A bouquet and flavours of spice, black pepper, oak, earth, red and black fruits.

So go ahead, pour a wine that encourages heartfelt conversations and laughter because it is said that You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine & that’s kind of the same thing!”

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Bijal Makwana

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