The trouble with celebrating the New Year is that it makes a very normal transition from one day to another seem like a big deal. This New Year began on a Thursday. When was the last time it was Thursday and you woke up and felt like turning over a new leaf, redefining everything about your life as it currently is and propose a markedly more discomforting routine? Diets, habits, significant partners—we try to change all of them and that is just too much to take for anyone, especially for a quasi-mid-week Thursday.
So, to kick off the first Sunday of the new year, I am proposing a stick-to-the-old plan, which is a far more convenient hashtag to live with. Here are a few things on the beverage front that you can continue to do and continue to expect, without any unnecessary day-disrupting attacks on the quotidian.
Red wines: For all that may happen, the popularity of red wines will certainly not dwindle. Independent of season and free from the shackles of social conformity, people will continue to prefer reds and so can you. There will be new brands and new vintages but reds will continue to rule roost. KRSMA and Charosa remain favourites but add to that list the new Fratelli Sette, the Grover Zampa Chêne, and the Vallone Malbec, which are all sure-shot crowd-pleasers.
Sparkling stability: Indian sparkling wines have carved out a success-shaped niche for themselves in the Indian drinks diaspora and that will continue to swell. From Fratelli’s utterly sugar-free zero dosage style to the more forgiving Soirée by Grover Zampa, from the classy Chandon to the yummy new-entrant York, we will have more than our share of bubbles to celebrate with.
Vodka supremacy: The bartender’s favourite choice of spirit for most mixes is almost eternal: a potent, flavourless, bodiless, tasteless distillate that manages to top the charts year after year. And this coming year, will see the latest of James Bond’s antics and he, in keeping with his style, has once again vouched for a vodka. Belvedere is his tipple of choice for the next multi-brand powerpoint that has become an essential part of his movies. So, get ready for some lovely mixes. On a side note, the Bloody Mary vodka by Belvedere is the only flavoured vodka that I have truly enjoyed in recent times. For the straight stuff, I stick to Stoli, that is, if there’s no Ketelone.
The under-doggedness of gin and rum: Two years ago, we shouted from rooftops how gin had arrived. A year later, we sit here sullen with sore throats but gin unfortunately, never entirely soared. Rum, something which I keep hoping will rise to fame (I even said so somewhere, written by an alter ego), but somehow I can’t help but be bridled by the feeling that it won’t happen. I hope it does but for this year, it is fine to think that gin is for gramps and rum is the synonym for Old Monk. PS: I too love Old Monk but I always harbour a kink to try ‘other stuff’.
Tax regime: Not the most pleasant of topics to touch but while we are on about the unchanging, the pigheadedness of the powers that be will ensure that alcohol remains expensive and the only thing that grows is the state revenue from tax collections. That, and the frustration of the common man for being made to dole out so much money for a basic commodity that, many may argue, is a requisite for a civil subsistence.
The writer is a sommelier