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“Thanks to their organoleptic features, Sicilian wines are excellent matches with Indian cuisine. The fact that they offer very good price-quality ratio make them an excellent choice for restaurants, hotels and consumer alike,” says Subhash Arora, director of the Indian Wine Academy
Sicilian wines, made from indigenous grapes, are increasingly accepted in the international market. Here in India, where the wine sector is still at a nascent stage, Sicilian wines with their distinct flavours and freshness, wine connoisseurs believe, have lot more to offer for the Indian palate.
“Thanks to their organoleptic features, Sicilian wines are excellent matches with Indian cuisine. The fact that they offer very good price-quality ratio make them an excellent choice for restaurants, hotels and consumer alike,” says Subhash Arora, director of the Indian Wine Academy, while speaking at the Master Class Sicily, a first-of-its-kind in India session on Sicilian wine in collaboration with the Sicily-based Istituto Regionale della Vite e del Vino (IRVV).
Wine critics say that Sicilian wine such as Rose di Nero d’ Avola with qualities of cheery is perfect for Indian tastes; Frappato Sicilia is best for medium spicy Indian food and Cartogaho Nero d’ Avola, with its spicy and peppery note goes well on the perfect for Indian palate. “Nero d’ Avola, on swirling opens up the fruit and is good enough to get drunk,” says a wine critic.
Dessert wine like Passito di Pantelleria, having a pale orange colour with fresh and fruity aroma is well made for the Indian tastes. Coste Al Vento Grillo is paired with cheese and fish, while Fonod Filara goes best with snacks, pastas, pizzas.
Mr Arora says that of all the Italian regions, the cuisine, climate and temperament in Sicily come closest to that in India. Their signature grapes like Nero d’Avola and Grillo are already being grown and popular In India. But there are a hosts of other interesting indigenous grapes like Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, Catarratto, Carricante, Insolia, Zibibbo (Moscato d’ Alessandria) that are typical of the region and make very interesting and delicious wines very palatable for the Indian taste.
The master class proved to be an educational and informative session for wine lovers with detailed presentation of the Sicilian soil, terroir, its viticulture and wines. Attendees were served with the samples of nine classic wines from Sicily such as Milazzo, Coste al Ventro, Fondo, Frappato, Cartagho Nero d’ Avola and Passito di Pantelleria among others.
Mr Arora was assisted by Dario Cartabellotta, director of IRVV and Michele Shah, a Sicilian wine expert, at the session.
“Apart from corruption, the nation’s prestige is stake. It is an embarrassment to give sub-standard gifts to our foreign guests. That, too, it is bought at highly inflated prices,” Dr Nutan Thakur, who filed a writ petition in the Allahabad HC commented
A Lucknow-based social activist, Dr Nutan Thakur, has filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court (HC) requesting the court to direct the ministry of external affairs (MEA) to conduct an enquiry into the sub-standard gifts purchased by its protocol division meant for the foreign dignitaries in the last five years, from 2007 to 2011.
Currently the ministry is conducting an enquiry against the sub-standard quality gifts which were purchased for foreign dignitaries at hugely inflated price by its protocol division.
Dr Thakur, who is associated with the National RTI (Right to Information) Forum, acting on news report about the gift scam and its enquiry, which is going on a slow pace, filed a writ petition with the Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC. She told Moneylife that, “Apart from corruption, the nation’s prestige is stake. It is an embarrassment to give sub-standard gifts to our foreign guests. That, too, it is bought at highly inflated prices.”
The Protocol Division, under the ministry is responsible for procuring gifts for the president, vice-president, the prime minister and the MEA, which are to be given to foreign dignitaries, both inside and outside the country.
The issue came to lime light when external affairs minister SM Krishna visited Malaysia in May 2011. On his return, it was noticed that sub-standard and poor quality gifts had been procured by the Protocol Division at an inflated rate. Subsequently, an enquiry by the vigilance wing of the MEA was ordered.
According to Hindustan Times, which first reported about the scam, an ebony photo frame with silver lining worth Rs5,787 (plus value-added tax) was bought for Rs14,000 for the trip. A silver plate with (just about 60% purity) worth Rs22,755 was bought for Rs40,000. Both the articles were bought from the Pragjyotika, Assam Emporium.
It further says that the officials in the Protocol Division were acting to circumvent Mr Krishna’s January 2011 order stating that the gifts should be sourced through state emporiums/public sector units to curb private vendors and for promoting indigenous arts of different states. However, the vendors, who were hand-in-glove with some officials of MEA, manipulated the system and became suppliers.
In her writ petition, Dr Thakur has requested that that the Prime Minister’s Office should be directed to supervise the enquiry and the action taken, the inquiry to conclude it within a fixed period of three months and a proper policy to be formulated to avoid such incident in future.