‘Most wines are meant to be drunk fresh and young’
Most people think that all wines need to be aged for them to taste good, says sommelier Sovna Puri, in an attempt to break the biggest misconception about wine — a drink that is rapidly turning out be one of Chennai’s favourite, “They fail to understand that most wines are meant to be drunk fresh and young,” adds the deputy general manager of marketing and head of Tastings and Training, Sula Vineyards.
Puri, who will be in the city to host an elaborate wine dinner at the Courtyard by Marriott next week, goes on to say that the temperature at which wine is drunk at is also commonly misunderstood. “Drinking red wine at room temperature actually refers to European room temperature. So the correct temperature to drink it at is 16 degrees Celsius, which means in India, it is very important to chill the wine,” she explains.
Puri, who believes that wine is something very personal and subjective, says that people here in Chennai are not only willing to try wine, but are also eager to learn and understand more about the sophisticated drink. “Wine awareness and education is very important,” she says.
The sommelier adds that she can definitely see more and more people wanting to learn about food and wine pairing. “Many of the questions I am asked after a tasting are with reference to pairing,” she says before willingly parting with some of her favourite combinations, “Dindori Reserve Shiraz with Tandoori dishes and Riesling with salads and light dishes.”
One of the most experienced in the industry, Puri says the entire journey to the top wasn’t easy. “I started working as a sommelier in London, so I will admit that I used to get a lot of curious glances as people wondered how a girl from India was a sommelier. It was quite a surprise to many of them,” she recalls, adding that things did look up as time went past. She also lays emphasis on the fact that being a sommelier is beginning to look up as a career here. “It is a very good opportunity as wine trade is growing in a big way in India. Many five star hotels and upscale restaurants today are employing sommeliers to help people choose the correct wine based on their preferences,” she explains. But at the same time, being a sommelier is also not all about knowing a few basics about the drink and spending the rest of the time tasting it. “It is very important to have a sensitive nose and palate to pick up on the different aromas and flavours in wine,” says Puri. “Also, it is imperative to understand what an individual’s preference is before recommending a wine.”
Puri says that the dinner at the Marriott on September 29 will be an elaborate one. “Each course will be paired with a specific wine. The chef and I will take the guests through each course while explaining each dish, each wine and why they are paired together,” she reveals.