A faint and fleeting smell of smoky and woody aromas drifted through the air and hit my senses. I swirled my glass vigorously and took a deep breath trying hard to decipher the trapped aromas in the drink. The instructor’s voice was running in the background talking about the blackberry, peppery, spicy and cinnamon aromas in the drink. Most of them escaped me. Only the bitterness of the drink stayed with me. A rookie oversight, easily. Here, I was at a wine tasting session at Heritage winery – 60kms from Bangalore city on an impromptu road trip, near the toy town of Channapattana.
Little did I know that the temperate climate makes this region perfect for wine growing. And that it’s the popular region for winemaking in Karnataka.
Journey to Heritage Winery
I’m not a wine connoisseur and had only heard of Grover Zampa vineyards near Nandi Hills. I wanted to do a quick road trip along with friends, and wine tasting seemed like an exciting idea for a road trip. Having never visited a winery before, this excited me.
While I was searching for the location, I found out that there is a Heritage Winery in Basavanagudi. Soon, I found out to be just a corporate office. But it took a while to locate the winery in the toy town of Channapattana. I was glad to have both my road trip and new experience to look forward to. Here’s a map for your reference.
Although road trip on Mysore kills the essence of a road trip for me as it’s always packed, it was fun traveling with a bunch of fun loving people. I left Bangalore at around 1 PM and reached the winery just shy of 3 PM. Had only a couple of hours left before the winery was going to shut down. Yet, I had enough time to attend a wine tasting tour, winemaking factory tour and visit the wineries before it closes at 5 PM.
The property is pretty nice and is wine and barrel themed. Additionally, they have an in-house restaurant with decent food. Do carry at least a few bottles as a souvenir. It makes for a great weekend companion 🙂
Learning the art of wine tasting at Heritage Winery
“Wines are shy in nature. Until you provoke them, they won’t open up”, our instructor – Mr.Shashidhar mused.
“If you want to get high – drink vodka, not wine”, he went on.
In the tasting room, the wine experience begins with smelling the aroma. Swirl the wine vigorously for about 10-15 seconds and inhale the plethora of aromas coming out. Take a sip and before swallowing and bring it to the front of your mouth for about 5 seconds. And then, roll the wine in the upper palate for about 8 seconds. Finally, swallow the wine.
Next, draw air from your mouth and concentrate on your brain while exhaling. If you concentrate hard enough, probably you will smell the aroma. Also, two minutes between two sips is ideal to recognize the aromas. Swirl, sniff, and sip, our instructor went on. It may sound simple but I found gauging the aromas really tough. The subtleties of wine tasting totally escaped me at first. By the time, I got to my 4th drink, it was just slowly sinking in.
It takes about half an hour and it was a thrilling experience for me having never been on a wine tasting tour before.
In wine tasting, they serve seven types of in-house wines – 3 dry, 1 carbonated and 3 regular sweet.
Art of winemaking at Heritage Winery
An informational tour of the factory to understand the process of winemaking happens every day at Heritage Winery.
The tour starts with the introduction of crushing machinery which crushes grapes at 5 tonnes/hour allowing free-run juice to pour forth. Potassium metabisulfite is added as a preservative to preserve the liquid which will soon be wine.
Yeast makes up for a vital part of winemaking. It consumes the food material and converts sugar in the grapes to alcohol, heat and Carbon Dioxide. And, preparation of wine is made in laboratories. Titrations show the amount of acidity available. Consequently, tasting the base wine – 30ml of wine in different glasses and different amounts of sugar ranging from 0.25gms, 0.5gms – 3gms of sugar which results in different levels of acidity and alcohol content.
Centrifugal machinery runs at 10,000 rpm which delivers 90% clarity wine after removing sedimentation. It is then passed through wine softeners to soften the wine and inox tanks serve this purpose. Consequently, it takes about 35 days on the higher side to make a bottle of wine.
Black grapes make for red wines and green grapes, on the other hand, make for white wines. No colors are added in red wines has a natural Anthocyanin pigment. Wines can be either sweet or bitter. Variety of factors ranging from the kind of grapes to climatic conditions influences the flavor and fruitiness of the grapes. Wines have their own character and all these aromas – blackberry, Pineapple, litchi, muskmelon, cashew fruit, and so on are naturally present in the wine and not added artificially.
Fun Fact – Red wine has a chemical called tannin which attacks the saliva. It is viscous in nature and blocks salivary glands – which is why red wines lead to dehydration. White wines, on the other hand, cause salivary activation.
Health tip – Always, eat local black grapes with the seeds. Apparently, the seeds have a good amount of anti-oxidants. Also, grapeseed oil can serve as an excellent moisturizer.
Feeling a little tipsy after seven different varieties of wine tasting and piles of information overload, we decided to walk through the vineyard during sunset.
The why and how of Hangovers
Along with winemaking and tasting, I felt it’s about time to shed some light on the why and how of hangovers as well – which usually follows excessive drinking. So, the addition of this section. Please bear with me.
While drinking, the body loses water, salt, and electrolytes. 250 ml of alcohol leads to almost 1 liter of urinary output. So, it’s easy to get dehydrated pretty soon. Did you know that you get high when the alcohol reaches the bloodstream? If you have heavy, oily food in your system, this process will take time to pass through your bloodstream and then finally a sudden kick – which is when a lot of people lose control. So, it’s advised to take light food for lunch and dinner while consuming alcohol. The instructor even said that you don’t dream when you consume alcohol. Interesting isn’t it?! If there is no proper absorption, alcohol remains in there and gets blocked. Along with gastric juice, it can cause irritation. One of the symptoms of a hangover.
And you all know the symptoms of a hangover, right? Body pains, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, headache and the likes.
Health tip – Don’t take paracetamol for a hangover. Also, avoid aspirin/dispirin which are vasodilators and alcohol being a blood thinner can be a toxic combination. It’s best to avoid coffee too. Sorry, coffee lovers!
How to cure hangovers
You are not going to like it. But, it’s proven effective. Drink 3-4 glasses of hot water with salt. Go to the washroom, and here it comes – THROW UP. This time, intentionally! Most of the discomfort will be gone. Wait for 10 mins and then have a light breakfast. And 2 glasses of fresh juice. Extra added sugar. Bit of salt. And by evening, you will be as good as new for the next round!
There are many certifications on wines the popular one being WSET (Wine and Spirit Education trust) that offers certification if you’d like to pursue an interest or start a career in wines. Headquartered in London, it has accredited centers all over the world. WSET Level 1 course is just a day course and amounts to Rs. 10,000 in India. Majorly available in Delhi and Mumbai. They host certification courses every year. You can inquire at email@example.com.
I was intrigued by the art of wine tasting and the subtlety of things involved that I thought of taking up this course sometime in the future, even if it’s just as a hobby. What do you think?
There are only 236 Master Sommeliers in the world! Out of which less than 15 percent of the Master Sommeliers were women. Although, women have 20-25% more taste buds than men. Strange, don’t you think?!
As per Forbes reports the average candidate sits for the exam two to three times and some take it as many as six times. It takes years to prepare for, and a very small percentage of candidates who attempt it actually pass!
If you are more of a beer person, why not try a beer tasting session instead?
Information about Heritage Winery
Tours and tastings are conducted seven days a week throughout the year. However, grape stomping is seasonal. The best time to visit the Heritage winery would be during the harvesting and crushing months between January and March.
Heritage Winery Location – Channapattana, 60 km away from Bangalore (through Bangalore – Mysore Highway).
Timings – 10am to 5pm
Wine tasting and factory tour – Rs. 250/- per head for 1-2 hours.
Grape stomping – Rs. 500/- per head (Call prior to ask for availability).
Also, Kids 10 years and below are given a free tour.
This experience is also featured under my 2017 highlights.
So, have you ever visited Heritage Winery or any winery for that matter? If yes, how was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.