What's Christmas without cake and wine? The history of wine is older than Christmas and there are stories a zillion wound around the fermented drink.
France, Italy, Spain and America are the largest producers of wine. The drink is equally popular and much sought after in Australia, Chile and Argentina. The magic and taste of the crystal red liquid depends on the climate, soil and geography of the place where the vines are grown. This could perhaps explain why champagne, the sparkling white wine that comes from Champagne in France is the priciest. And that's precisely why champs rev up their victorious spirits by shaking up that bottle of sparkling liquid, bathing others in it. Red wine and white wine are what the world goes for the most. A glass of chilled red wine is sheer bliss. The rose and sparkling champagne are all part of traditional wines.
The finest restaurants around the world serve only those wines that go best with the food. Generally speaking, red wine goes best with red meat and white wine with sea food or anything special that comes from white and fleshy meat.
Top notch hotels and restaurants around the world have a special set of employees called 'sommeliers' who promote the art of fine dining. A sommelier is a wine steward, a trained and knowledgeable professional who does the wine-food pairing for those elite guests who troop in to swanky, world-class restaurants. Sommeliers are paid a king's ransom for the highly specialized work they do. Not all can be a sommelier. It needs skill and taste of a special kind to be one.
Almost one-and-a-half kg of grapes go into the making of a bottle of wine. When wine is had along with food, both acquire a special taste or a particular kind of flavor, an experience that cannot be found when food is paired with any other drink.
Coming back to home turf, Malayalees have their own wine recipes. Come Christmas or special occasions, the wine is made and served with extra sweetness. Another Kerala special is rum-made rich Christmas plum cake.
A month before Christmas Keralites dress up their wine caskets with equal quantities of grapes and sugar which are coarsely crushed. Into this is added cinnamon, cloves, and kacholam (aromatic medicinal herb). A small folding of rice, wheat and yeast is thrown in for that added kick. The wine casks are then sealed and set aside for a month. It’s then strained out for clear red wine.
Christmas is just around the corner. Say cheers to wine and rich plum cake!