Archive for April, 2012


How about throwing a wine tasting party this weekend? It gives you an ideal excuse to meet up friends over food and wine. And don’t you worry; a wine tasting party needn’t be elaborate, exorbitant or stressful work.

With our step to step advice, you can make your wine tasting party fun but still light on the budget.


Sending Invitations.  Send sms/email invites to your friends (an ideal number would be 8 to 10). If you are creative, you can send hand-made party invites too.


Selecting Wines.  If you want to keep it small and simple, keep 3 wines of each category; red and white. Picking wines from different regions will make the tasting interesting without boring anyone. Ideal choices for reds are Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or any other robust red of your choice. For whites, include Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc or a Chenin Blanc. Keep dessert wines or fortified wines like Port, Sherry or a late harvest for serving with dessert.



Arranging Food.  Food needn’t be elaborate but appetizers should be served first so that your guests don’t start tasting on an empty stomach. Serve cut salads, bread sticks, and Mediterranean lavash with cream and cheese dip. Still want to keep it simple, put an assortment of cheeses, nuts, and olives. And for main course, cook some pasta or a Spanish omelet. If you still don’t feel up to it, ask your friends for a potluck party. Don’t forget plain water and unsalted crackers/bread to refresh the palate for each new wine.



Decorating Home. Spread a white tablecloth (however much you try, you cannot avoid red wine spillage) that can be bleached later. Avoid scented flowers and candles as they will interfere with the wine smells. Putting a bowl of fresh grapes would be an ideal choice for the centerpiece. Arrange some wine bottles (preferably vintage) at random places in the tasting room to give a more authentic look to the whole party thing. You can even fill drinking water in clean empty wine bottles.



Collecting Paraphernalia.  Keep it simple and use 1 glass per guest.  Keep water buckets near the table so that your guests can rinse the glasses after each tasting. Arrange for a decent corkscrew and a discard bucket. For white wines, set up an ice bucket in your tasting room so you don’t have to keep running to the fridge for ice.



Tips for Tasting:


  • Serve two ounces of each wine per person. Now work out how much wine to buy according to the number of guests expected.
  • Classic wine tasting wisdom suggests tasting the wines from lightest (lightest means less alcohol) to heaviest. And in the same way, from dry to sweet with white wines and then from light to full-bodied red wines. Also, it is ideal to start with younger wines and move to the more mature wines at the end.
  • Keep a few corked wine bottles too as corked wines have their own aromas and flavors and can be vastly educational.
  • Tasting process includes the four ‘S’s: See, Swirl, Smell and Sip. Encourage your guests to do that. The actual fun is in comparing tastes (smooth, sweet or tart) and argument over smells (fruits, floral, spices, earthy, musky or herbs).
  • Serve dessert after the tasting with dessert or fortified wines. For anyone driving home, offer nonalcoholic options too.


If you like the wine, take another sip, and then another. That’s the whole fun of the party.




Categories: Tips

Cooking with Wine

You had a great party; friends, food and wine. But that was a week ago. Now sitting in your fridge, there are still some leftover wine bottles that you couldn’t consume. What would you do with them? Don’t think so hard, simply cook with them. Adding wine to those age-old recipes of your grandma’s sauces and meat gravies will only intensify and enhance them.

A few things to remember before you pour the contents of the bottle into your food.

  • If the bottle has been lying open for more than a few weeks, chances are that it is oxidized and has lost most of its aromas and flavors. Better pour it down the sink.
  • Never use a cheap cooking wine as it is loaded with salt and additives. Inferior wine will overpower the taste of the dish on cooking. Remember; don’t cook with something that you won’t drink. That doesn’t mean that you take out a bottle from your vintage collection. Any wine that you enjoy regularly will do fine for cooking.

How to cook with wine:

  • Wine has three main uses – it’s used as a marinade ingredient (it tenderizes and keeps the meat moist), cooking liquid and as a flavoring in a finished dish or baking cakes.
  • While cooking, a good portion of the alcohol in the wine will burn off leaving more intense aromas and flavours to the food. Be careful not to use too little wine, so as its aromas and flavours go undetected, or too much wine, that the end result is overpowering.
  • Avoid adding wine to a dish just before serving as it will give a raw and harsh quality to the dish. When wine is simmered with the food, it imparts its flavour to the dish. Its acidity and sweetness are more pronounced then.

Pairing wine with cooking

Wine brings freshness and acidity to the food.

Dishes with red meat

Use a hearty red for simmering with a leg of lamb, soup with root vegetables or beef roast; Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon would be an ideal choice. For red sauces, add a young, full bodied red like Nine Hills Shiraz.

Dishes with fish and poultry

A dry white Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc is extremely versatile for such dishes. Sherry can also be used for poultry and vegetable soups. For cream sauces, you can use fortified wines.


Sweet white wines will do more justice to desserts. For baking cakes, mix wines into the cake mix before baking to create moist and flavorful desserts. The alcohol evaporates during baking to give a unique and subtle flavor to the cakes. You can use dry white wines Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc. For any dessert with chocolate, you can never go wrong with adding port in it.

If it’s too much for you to remember, then a golden rule of thumb to keep you on the right track is: White wine with seafood, pork or poultry and Red wine with beef, lamb or other heavier meats.

Lastly, cooking with wine is all about fun; so if you feel weighed down by all these rules, throw them out of the kitchen window. Simply, follow you intuition and you will never go wrong.

Categories: Tips

Spruce up your Easter with Wine

Easter Sunday is that special time of the year when friends and family gather to celebrate and enjoy a fancy meal together. Traditional Easter menus comprise glazed ham or roasted lamb, spring veggies and chocolate bunnies. We have a wine pairing for each of these food items.

Appetizers or Salads

Start with a white wine that is light and whets your appetite. If you are starting your dinner with salads or light sea food dishes, Sauvignon Blanc is an ideal choice. The pale golden nectar of Nine Hills Sauvignon Blanc with pronounced aromas of passion fruit, pineapple and fresh lime will evoke the pleasures of a balmy summer.


Main Course

Glazed ham has sweet topping while the actual meat is salty. Hence, the best wine to complement it should have sweet fruity notes to match the saltiness of the ham and enough acidity to support the combination of both sweet and salty flavors of the ham. You can keep sipping the Nine Hills Wine Sauvignon Blanc which you took at the start of the meal. If you are partial to red wine, Nine Hills Shiraz is the perfect pick.


For the roasted lamb, stick to Cabernet Sauvignon. Nine Hills Wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon has enough fruit and tannins to handle the complex meaty flavors of the lamb.


For a dish of stuffed chicken breast, Pinot Noir or a local white Zinfandel, which is a pink wine, is the best choice.



As traditional Easter desserts make the maximum use of coconut, pair it with a Nine Hills Chenin Blanc. Nibble on chocolate cupcakes or bunnies with a classic port. For Indian desserts that are particularly rich with ghee and sugar, Nine Hills Wine’s Viognier is the best recommendation.


Wine pairing is an art of discovering your palate and preference. No food is off-limit to wines. Try out different wines with Easter meal to find out your taste. A sumptuous meal shared with friends and family over good wines is all you need to add festivity to any holiday.


Happy Easter Day!