Wine expert Alok Chandra talks about Indian fruit wines like Luca Lychee and Mango wines.
Fruit Wine? Most people get visions of syrupy-sweet stuff sampled en route to Simla, or that home-made brew (also sweet and syrupy) foisted onto you when visiting friends or relatives in Coorg.
No longer! The Indian wine producer breaking out of the “low-cost and low-quality” mould of wines made from fruits other than grapes is the improbably-named Nirvana Biosys, whose one million bottle state-of-the-art winery, 90 km south of Delhi (on the Jaipur road), is raising the bar for all fruit wines.
The wines in question are made from two very traditional Indian fruit: Lychees, and Mangoes.
Luca Exotic Lychee Wine:
Launched in mid-2010, Luca Lychee Wine is a white wine that is simply surprising: a pale yellow, the wine has an aroma of – what else, lychees – and a smooth, medium-bodied, and off dry (note: not sweet) taste that lingers.
Made from 100percent Indian lychees, this is a wine that delights the first-time drinkers and women. The fruit, originally a native of South-East Asia, seems to thrive in the Terai region of Northern India, particularly Muzzafarpur in Bihar. As a child I remember gorging on the low-hanging fruit in orchards in Dehra Doon. The ripe fruit is sweet and aromatic, with a big seed and white fleshy pulp beneath the red and rough rind/ skin. One expects a wine made from this to be sweet – but Luca seems to have been able to achieve a nice balance.
The wine is distributed across North India, Calcutta, Goa, Hyderabad, and Bangalore (and Dubai, Japan, and Germany) – domestically it is priced at between Rs 750 and Rs 900 at retail, and well worth trying.
Luca Fine Mango Wine
A new product that is just in the process of being rolled out, Luca’s Fine Mango Wine is a bright yellow colour, with an aroma of mangoes, and a full-bodied but off-dry taste that again belies expectations that the wine would be sweet.
The mango needs no introduction to Indians. While most aver that the Alphanso is the best variety, some die-hard UP-ites will champion the Langra or the Dusheri – indeed, there are over 100 varieties available, and every region has its favourites.
Of course, neither lychee nor mango wines are unique to India: a Google search throws up wines made in China, Florida, Queensland (Australia) and so on. What is interesting is that for the first time, an Indian company has crafted something unique, thereby breaking out of the box.