I am not one for resolutions: I'd much rather make small incremental changes over time leading up to big results rather than try and kick or rearrange habits like furniture. Quitting anything cold turkey for me has never had the desired outcome. By contrast, indulging in anything heavily and sporadically has been equally of disservice. These clarifications provided, you can understand why I don't give in to dry January or any such nefarious regime which only sounds good when shared on Facebook or such. Instead here are a few things I look forward to tasting this year:
Other spirits: Gins and whiskies have had a good run in India and I hope this year they are joined by other spirits – Tequila and Mezcal for one (or two), and definitely rum, both Indian and international. While Old Monk holds a certain nostalgic sway at college and school reunions, there are better rums to be made/had. Even the ubiquitous Bacardi makes some lovely smooth (light) versions which I hope to see on Indian shelves sometime soon.
Indian wine: While we have a few reliably good brands on our shelves now, there is always room for more. J'Noon remains the best sparkling wine I have had coming out from Indian soils yet and their white could even give many a white Burgundy the competitive chills. Amongst reds, I still reach out for a KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah which, to me, remain wines of the highest pedigree.
Other ferments: While the growth of beer will continue unabated (Yavira and BeeYoung were two new brands I tried recently and enjoyed as also the new Bira Pomelo IPA), it's time for other lesser-known ferments to have their time in the sun. I am talking about meads by Moonshine meadery and ciders by Siqera which are both, in their respective spaces, very well-made and great sips for daytime drunching or evening sundowners. Word of caution, these beverages can often seem extremely quaffable which belies their alcohol potential that can suddenly creep up on you a few pints in. Other fruit wines such as those by Fruzzante also stand in good stead to go more mainstream.
I recently wrote about the corn festival in Chhindwara in MP under the aegis of their CM, Kamal Nath. It was a spectacular event and shed light on this often overlooked product which uses not just as a dietary element but also in various other fields and most notably, one that is of particular interest to me. Nothing would please me more to see some of this corn end up as American-style whiskies produced from our very own heartland of MP. We have already given Scotch a run for its repute, why not give Bourbon a chase too?
Zero percent: The non-alcoholic category will also be a rewarding space to explore. From beers to spirits, whoever manages to capture the essence of any spirit minus the ethyl alcohol component will have a winning combination on their hands. I envisage that a few products shall make their presence felt this coming year finally allowing us all to have evenings when we can indulge in flavour and camaraderie and yet be worthy of driving ourselves home.
Size: I think we have long sat out the size quandary. Why are bottle 750ml, or beer 650ml or 330ml? What is the point of having gone metric if these numbers still follow some archaic principles which no longer hold relevance. Kimaya Himalayan is leading this movement of sorts with their 500ml packaging for their beers (BeeYoung and Yavira) and I think others should follow suite. It's practical and, especially for the OCD in me, calming and rather reassuring. So what will be in your glass in the coming year. Do share, both the idea and, if it happens, the drink too!
The writer is a sommelier