By W. A. Muller
Following a highly-successful 24-year career airline industry veteran Sam Bhatia chose to unite a team of passionate wine lovers to create Mirza Ghalib, a trio of French wines (white, red and rose), under his newly-launched company, Sufi Wines. The Cabarnet Sauvignon (red), Viognier (white), and Syrah (rose) are all from the Pays D’Oc region of France and are especially blended to perfectly complement the richness, complexity, and spicy nature of Indian cuisine. The creation of these wines is the result of the work of a team of passionate wine lovers led by Frédéric-Jean Hoguet, wine expert and member of the prestigious Académie du vin de Paris.
The Cabarnet Sauvignon is described as well-balanced with velvety smooth tannins and main aromas of red mature fruits and spices. The grape varietal best accompanies Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes such as tandooris, tikkas, kebabs, baltis, curries, vindaloos, and biryanis. The Voignier is described as round, velvety, aromatic, and dry, with a final touch of vanilla. This varietal best accompanies Indian fish dishes, as well as vegetarian delicacies such as pakoras, samosas, bhajias, lentils, and curries.
Finally, the Syrah contains a fine aromatic expression of fruits and flowers such as black currants, cherries, and violets; it is also best accompanied with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian food. Sufi Wines, a privately owned company, currently has a team of seven people. During 2015, Sufi Wines plans to launch three more wine labels and explore new world wine-making regions including California, Spain and Argentina.
“We plan to launch in India this year and are working to address all legal and bureaucratic requirements,” Sam says. It was his time in the airline industry that nudged New York-based Sam towards his new career. “I spent over 20 years travelling at Continental Airlines [now United], planning events and launching new destinations. During these travels, the question of pairing wine with Indian cuisine frequently arose prompting me to think about wine as a second career,” he recalls.
Mirza Ghalib is today served in nearly fifty dining establishments between New York and New Jersey, including prestigious Michelin star restaurants such as Tulsi, Tamarind Tribeca and Junoon.
“The clientele we cater to is the ‘global’ individual,” says Sam. “New Yorkers love wine. Our wines are meant to take you on a spicy culinary journey. So far all varieties have been very well received and have been honored with industry awards.”
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