1. Raising a toast

Raising a toast

Here are a few drinks that could use a day of their own, with a 24-hour festival dedicated to their technique and application

By: | Published: March 13, 2016 12:03 AM

RECENTLY, INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was celebrated and the old joke about why there is no ‘Men’s Day’ came back to haunt me on every social media channel that I loathsomely pursue. This was not just because there does, in fact, exist a men’s day, but because men being men are utterly unaware of it—I don’t think that having the knowledge of its existence would make them do anything worthwhile with it anyway. I am now risking sounding like an anti-male element and given my own masculine construct, this could perhaps be seen as some contorted form of anti-nationalism, so I will refrain.

But if I had to lodge a complaint, it would be against the idea of celebrating inane days—men’s day, women’s day, friendship day—that make no sense. I am not saying they shouldn’t be celebrated, but it does make me wonder at the times we live in when normalcy has to be marked and remembered like a fallen hero. Days should be instituted for causes that won’t see the light of day if it weren’t for a conscientious effort of a forceful majority. This will have a profoundly more significant impact than even the most well-meant group of local admirers canvassing in the village square.

Here then are a few drinks that could use a day of their own—some might already have one—with a 24-hour fest dedicated to them, their technique and application, as also the nostalgia around them.

Port: There are few wines that can be as complex and as long-living as Port wines.And yet, as invincible as these wines smell and taste, the category seems to fade away into obscurity every day a little bit. World Port Day is celebrated in the region in Portugal every year in the month of September. Silval is my current house of choice, especially for its rather unique un-oaked Tawny ports.

Beaujolais: The Gamay is much more than what the masses imagine it to be: a grape that is best drunk cooled and which induces the fastest headaches. Handled well, these wines can give even the good old Pinot Noir a nigh scare. Martine and Pierre-Marie Chermette’s wines come racing to my mind. The Beaujolais Nouveau celebration does everything that is detrimental to this sentiment of quality wines. What we then need is a day to celebrate the Crus of Beaujolais, the one that shows the auction-worthy stuff, the kind that you don’t just quaff.

Schilcher: This rare rosé from Styria in Austria is definitely an acquired taste. If the name isn’t a phlegm-wrapped tongue-twister enough, the wines are raspy, acrid, brambly even with rhubarb notes, and that’s just the first sip. And yet, in spite of this rather hostile tasting note, there is something affable about them. The more you try, the more you find things to embrace about it. Christian Reiterer makes some of the best Schilcher you can find and it would be the best introduction to the style.

Tokaj: The Hungarians won the court cases and now nobody can call it Tokaj, but it still hasn’t helped boost consumption. Not just Tokaj, in fact, but almost all sweet wines need a day, or week, to throw light on all the stocks that are piling up in warehouses the world over. Let’s help them see the light of the day as perceived from the inside of a wine glass.

Single malt: First Bourbon went and stole away the cola, then more damage came in the form of a Japanese whiskey being crowned the number one single malt in the world. And now, almost every country, from Italy to Iceland to India, is making its own version of the single malt. And judging by the accolades being showered on all, they aren’t half as bad. But for purists, and even for me, Scottish Single Malt will always be something special. Ageing of whiskies in barrels in that part of the world provides a unique combination of factors that are utterly suited for making aged malts—they just can’t be replicated anywhere else. But given the market trend to prefer younger whiskies with myriad wood finishes (Port, Sherry, Madeira, etc), Scotland is having to change its production DNA. We need to preserve the legacy of aged malts and a day is needed to draw attention to it.

Cognac and Armagnac: Everybody knows about them and yet nobody ever orders them. If any drinks need a day, they are Cognac and Armagnac, perhaps the most endangered.

Till such time that a day can be marked for all these drinks, just buy a bottle, pour a generous round for all and raise a toast to it. That will do, too, to serve their cause.

The writer is a sommelier

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