Wine 101

June 16, 2017 14:43 PM Isha Upadhyay

Know your wine(s) and understand how to drink this light alcoholic beverage.

There’s no right way or wrong way to have wine. It’s simple: Do you like what you are drinking or not? But that said, if you know your wine(s) and understand the type of foods that go with a certain type of wine you will be able to enjoy a glass of this drink much more than usual. So today The Week is here to help you with just that. We got in touch with Alex Muktan, founder of Vesper Café, to break it down for you. To make it even simpler, Muktan shares tips on wine drinking as well as picks out his favorites that he recommends you to try.  

The way of the wine
There’s a wine glass for every style of wine you would ever want to drink. In fact, there are so many choices that you will probably find yourself wondering whether you need a wine glass for every type of wine you drink. But save yourself the anxiety. Every home basically just needs two sets of wine glasses: a set of sparkling wine flutes and a set of all-purpose glasses that are great for both red and white.
No matter the glass you choose to buy, the ones that work best are ones that have stems. While stem-less wine glasses look nice, a wine glass with a stem is ideal for tasting and serving wine more formally. The stem also ensures your hand doesn’t have to touch the bulb of the glass, which would warm the wine. It also makes it much easier to swirl the wine when you initially taste it.
“If you have a dinner party, it is advisable to open the wines a couple of hours before your guests arrive. This is hard to do at a restaurant, so when you are at one, swirl the wine around for a while and let it breathe for a minute or so before you drink it,” says Alex. This allows the drink to mellow and mature into its taste. Also, wine bottles usually have a concave bottom and it is there for a reason. While serving the wine, place your thumb in the cave and hold the bottle with four fingers as you pour the wine.

Recommended wines and their food pairings  

Gaja (pronounced ga-ya)

This wine is fruity and spicy and has a creamy texture. You get a strong hit of the fruity sangiovese grape flavor when you take a sip. The suggested serving temperature for the wine is 19 degree Celsius. The wine goes best with pastas, especially with ones that have a garlic tomato sauce. But having said that it works great with other types of sauces too. It pairs well with both red and white meat and the smooth taste of grapes goes well with aged cheese such as Gouda and Gorgonzola.

Sito moresco
The extra dry wine is a full-bodied Italian wine with rich layers of flavors running through it. Made from Nebbiolo, Cabernet and Merlot grapes, the flavors tie up really well together and none of them overpower the other. If you let the wine sit for a while after opening it, you will get a delicate yet fresh aroma of the grapes. The wine goes great with mature cheese such as Cheddar and Stilton. The earthy taste of mushrooms also works great with it and so mushroom risotto might be a good choice here. “The fruity flavor of the wine also works well with grilled vegetables and other kinds of vegetable salads,” says Alex.

A strong wine, Barbaresco should be had with dishes that have strong flavors as it will easily overpower subtle ones. You should completely avoid it if you are having fish. The wine pairs well with deer meat, and duck breast. If you want to pair it with pasta, make sure you have a strong and flavorful tomato sauce to go with it. The best serving temperature of this wine is between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius.


Bellavista Rosé
A rosé wine generally can be served throughout the entire course of the meal. The bubbly drink too pairs well with all kinds of food. For starters, it goes best when served with smoked salmon or thinly sliced smoked ham. For the main course, the summery flavor of the wine works well with dishes that feature mushrooms, fish with gravy, lobster, and white meat such as grilled chicken. It also works well with Japanese food, especially sushi. Pairing rosé wine with desserts is a very adventurous choice. The sweeter the dessert, the more sour your wine will taste, and it become worse if you pair it with chocolate. “Desserts that have a touch of acidity like tarts are better with this wine than others. Opt for desserts that have strawberries in them,” suggests Alex.  

Bellavista Satèn
A blanc de blanc wine, Satèn is only produced with white grapes and that too only of the Chardonnay variety. It is a wine best served at temperatures between eight to 10 degrees Celsius. The wine pairs well with raw fish dishes such as sushi. It goes with any seafood platter you can imagine, from seafood pasta to seafood soup.

Bellavista Cuvée brut
The highlight of this drink is its attractive pale yellow color with green tinge running through it. The wine smells of white flowers with subtle hints of vanilla and the taste follows suit. The slight taste of vanilla elevates the flavor of this wine, binding and balancing all the other flavors. It goes well with fried sweet potato dishes as well as with shrimp. Crepes with spinach, onion, ham, topped with parmesan cheese works very well with this wine.

Vesper by Fontana di Papa

The reason behind coming up with Vesper’s own wine label was to introduce people in the country to fine wine. Most people think that when it comes to wines, the higher the price, the better the quality. While this is true to some extent, it isn’t a given. There are some cheap wines out there that don’t compromise on the quality. “The idea behind it was that when people ordered a glass of open wine at hotels and restaurants, they still got value for their money,” says Alex.

The three types of wine they have under their label are the Vesper Red, Vesper White and Vesper Rosé.  Rosé and red wines are best served at 16 to 18 degrees Celsius while the white wine should be served chilled between 8 to 10 degrees.

Vesper red is a ruby red wine and has an intense aroma. It tastes fresh and pleasant, and goes well with roast meat, cheese, and pizza. Vesper white, that’s pale straw yellow in color with golden hues, is characterized by a delicate and fruity aroma. The wine pairs well with pastas, fish dishes, and white meats. Vesper rosé has an intense pink color and a delicately fruity aroma. The smooth wine is best consumed with appetizers, as well as white and red meats.

The right way to store wine
Wine can spoil easily, so storing it properly is important. Since wine is simply fermented grape juice it can spoil easily if it’s not stored at the proper temperature. An easy way to tell if a wine has been ruined by heat is to smell it. If the wine smells of stewed fruit and raisins, it has probably gone bad due to heat. Avoid keeping wine bottles where it’s hot or, just to be on the safe side, simply place the bottles in the fridge.
When wines are stored upright, the liquid can’t stay in constant contact with the cork, which allows the seal on the bottle to loosen, and more oxygen to seep in and spoil the wine. So, if there is a cork on the bottle, the best way to store that wine would be on the side rather than upright. Also, experts say that only 1% of all the wines produced around the world are meant to be aged. So not every wine you buy needs to be purposefully put aside to be undergo aging. In fact, most store bought wines should be consumed within five years or so, and that too only if you store it right.

Text: Isha Upadhyay
PHotos : Pratik rayamajhi


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