The Congress leader's stint as tourism minister left her with little leisure for vacations, but she has her wishlist
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OT: Any particular wines that go well with Indian food?
Michel Rolland: When you have a good wine and good food, whatever food it is, they go well together. I have wine all the time when I’m in India. At lunch today we had a large and complete spread and I was drinking Grover’s La Reserva Red, someone else was drinking Rosé Dry.
I’m very simple with wine. I’m not in favour of organizing foods and wines into categories. Of course if the meal has a very strong ginger flavour, for instance, I can tell you what wine will go well with it. Some flavours change the taste of the wine a little bit. But, if like me you like wine, there is no huge problem what you eat it with.
OT: How would you rate Indian wines?
Michel Rolland: Good Indian wines are like good wines almost anywhere. The difference between an Indian red and a French red is like the difference between an Indian and a Frenchman. Two eyes, two hands, two legs, two arms...everything else is relative — a matter of culture and taste. I wouldn’t come to India as a consultant if I didn’t like the Indian wines I’m doing here.
OT: How do people abroad react to the ‘Made in India’ label?
Michel Rolland: When I told people 14 years ago that I’m consulting in India they were astonished. Today if you have an Indian wine on the wine-list, a serious wine-drinker will want to try it. I have a huge private cellar since I’ve been in this business for 30 years. Often when friends come home for dinner they say — I want to try your Indian wine. They don’t ask me for a chateaux wine from Bordeaux. Of course, it’s not just the novelty. Frankly, a lot of people are surprised that Indian wine production gives out good wines. So once they try the wine, they’re hooked.
OT: Any memorable experiences from your three decades of wine consulting?
Michel Rolland: India! I’d always gone to consult in countries that had a long tradition of making wine. But when I came to India no one was really doing wine here. And going by the book, a tropical climate is not the best one for wine production. So Indian wine production was one of the most challenging situations in my life. And today we have built something. Ours was the first wine done from grapes grown exclusively for wine and not table grapes.
OT: Your favourite metaphor to describe a good wine?Michel Rolland: A good wine is a wine I like when I’m drinking it. I would like more people to just enjoy wine. Very often the critics taste a drop and write a foot-long article. I say write two lines and drink a bottle!
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