When we christened our little wine endeavour Wi-Not, we did so with the idea of being ready to take on new challenges head-on. In a country where wine was only beginning to become famous, there would be many such “new” tasks to tackle. But even then, we had never anticipated that one fine day we would be helping on-board the Maharajas’ Express, a super-luxury train that travels through India, with an exclusive Indian wine tasting that had especially been organised for the guests on board.
Maharajas’ Express, the name itself speaks of a creation that is an epitome of unsurpassed luxury and class. A train, which gives luxury travel a whole new definition, takes you into a bygone world of the imperial history of India. The concept of luxury trains is not a new one and started when India was still locked under British shackles. If we go back in time, we will learn that the kings of different Indian states were proud owners of magnificent luxury carriages and wagons to get them around. Journeys were long and hence, comfort, a must. Improvement in transport meant shorter travel times, thereby rendering such ornate carriages almost obsolete but with the advent of tourism, these have been brought back to life in a new avatar: luxury-oriented concepts which can only be executed through elements such as these royal carriages. Today India can boast of some outstanding luxury trains that take the experience to the next level.
Back to today and the wine tasting, the foreign guests were eager to know how India is doing on the wine front. So what could be better than to make them taste some fine Indian stuff. Renowned brands like Sula, Grover’s, Four Seasons, Vallée de Vin and Nine Hills were promptly requisitioned and brought on board. The Safari Bar, a plush jungle-themed dispense bar was chosen as the
The tasting started with Wi-Not’s official wine advisor Simranjit Singh taking the gathered eager crowd through the history of Indian winemaking, finishing with the present-day scenario: a growing interest and a burgeoning industry to match this growth. Two bubblies from the house of Vallée de Vin were first popped open, followed by a Sula Chenin Blanc, a Four Seasons Sauvignon Blanc, and then a Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc.The scene looked picture perfect as the guests swirled and sipped, asked questions and munched alongside on cheese crackers. Sula Chenin Blanc certainly seemed to stand out and was much appreciated.
And then it was the turn of the robust reds. Their faces seemed to almost light up as the reds were being lined up and it became obvious that a clear majority were avid red wine drinkers. The first to be uncorked was the Four Seasons Shiraz followed by a Sula Cabernet-Shiraz. Both the wines managed to collect a fairly good response. Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and Grover’s La Reserve followed thereafter. Grover’s La Reserve was much gushed over, flooded with first-class reviews. The guests could still be heard chirping about the wine at the dinner table. Everybody seemed to have had a gala time but, let’s just say, even the gentlest of wine has the strongest yet softest of ways of putting colour in our cheeks. So while everyone turned in a little earlier than usual, their royal ride chugged along towards the next destination.