India’s Wine Country: A Charming Work in Progress

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And then you have to teach potential customers about the product.

Many of Sula’s visitors have little experience with wine. At the tasting room, our guide instructed, “Never sip a wine like a vodka or a tequila. Do not gulp.” Bottles of different Sula wines were mounted on one wall, each described by a single word like “intense” or “easy” or “happy.”

Unfortunately, we found no happiness in any of the Sula wines. The 2018 Rasa syrah, one of Sula’s premium offerings, had a long rubbery finish. The late-harvest chenin blanc, which our guide said was very popular, was like sipping sugar-sweetened honey.

However, Sula is not targeting seasoned wine drinkers like us.

“One thing about Sula: they have never said they are trying to make wines for connoisseurs,” Ms. Holland said. “They say, we are trying to give consumers what they want: fruit-forward wines edging on sweetness. And that has worked.”

After the tasting, I chatted with Alex Thomas, a novice wine-drinker.

“We have wines in Kerala, but they are not proper wines,” said Mr. Thomas, 27, an electrical engineer who was visiting Nashik on business. In his southwestern state, he said, people commonly drink toddy, an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of coconut palms.

“This is the first time I’ve had wines like this,” he said. So what did he think? “I prefer rum or brandy.”

Still, Sula has grasped the essence of wine country tourism: It’s more about the experience than the wine itself. Mr. Thomas stood in the shade, a refuge from the dry midday heat, and looked out at vineyards as far as the eye could see. He was even thinking about buying a couple of bottles of wine.

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