Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Mario's wines

Goan liquor producers – 2

August 26-September 1, 2013

Lionel Messias

A spring in their step

If it weren’t for the “killer freight” and another slayer called customs duties, the Raia-based Springfields (India) Distilleries would have had the pleasure of serving up affordable tequila, the real McCoy that too all the way from Mexico.  But you can still get your shots thanks to Villa Vercelli Tequila Silver (the clear variety) the company has begun importing from Tequila Orendain De Jalisio, S.A De C.V.  Already selling in Goa, their Tequila will soon be available in Delhi.  The customs duty according to the group’s managing partner Mario Sequeira is a huge 160 per cent and is levied on the cost of freight as well.  “The cost of freight and cost of product are separate entities which are added to the final cost of the bottle.”  The company is registered with the Mexican government which allows it to import Tequila out of Mexico.

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Goan liquor producers - 1

August 12-18, 2013

Lionel Messias

The adrenalin rush at Adinco

If you were told a Goa-made vodka with the not-the-so-heady name of Flo will soon be sold in Canada and the US, you might feel a tad heady.  Blame it, if you want, on the huge in-your-face ad spend or the intoxicating effect of all those promos on the north coast line, but sober up fast.  What you may not know is that vodka is produced through an intricate and expensive process and is not merely distilled from an assortment of grain mashes (or potatoes even) which the Russians did for a long, long time before they knew better.  So, know this.  The Cotombi-based Adinco run by the Diniz brothers Truman (production), Solomon (marketing) and Wilfrid spelt with an ‘i’ (logistics) use the later discovered Russian filter method to make Flo which hopefully is going to be ‘shot’ in bars soon into the North American continent.  “The Russian filters are so compact they can be installed in a room,” says Solomon.  Adinco uses both the carbon (cost: approx. Rs 2,00,000 ) and silver (cost: approx Rs 5,00,000) processing methods or filters.

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Homemade Goan wines

Goa’s Vintage Vintners

July 15-21, 2013

Lionel Messias

Like wine is all about how long it is matured, it seems logical to assume that homemade wine makers traditionally called vintners are matured persons themselves.  Proof of my age theory is the fact that two of Goa’s truly dedicated vintners are 80 (Dr John Carmo Rodrigues) and 65-years-old (Anselmo Mascarhenas and his co-vintner/wife Mary Santan).  From the confines of their homes in Chinchinim and Parra respectively, they turn out an incredible array of fruity wines albeit in small quantities because without the modern technology used by big and popular wine makers, theirs is undoubtedly a painstaking task.  “A tiny bit of air leakage into the pot during the fermentation process will turn wine into vinegar.  In fact, right now we are selling some vinegar which was meant to be grape wine,” Mary Santan said, brushing off her loss with a smile.  The smile is also proof that even after 30-years of fine tuning right up to being perfect vintners today, a hiccup can occur.

Literally, give this trio a fruit and I venture to say a spice even, and they will compliment you with a wine.  In his bedroom on a table (see picture) in John’s large home a range of labeled bottles were displayed for my visit.  For the doubting Thomas, I saw love apple wine, jamun and grape, jamun and herbs, breadfruit organic sweet, karonda (the purple version), musk melon, hibiscus flower organic semi-dry, aloe vera red wine, ber (berry) wine, papaya sweet organic, amla, turmeric semi-dry organic, chikoo, passion flower, governor’s plum sweet organic, kokum semi-dry, grape wine, bimblim sweet organic, pineapple semi-dry organic, cashew sweet and jackfruit sweet organic wine.  And after tasting his mango spice sweet and royal spice wine, I hazard to say they are his artistic masterpieces.  He has made in all nearly 200 types of wine.
For example his passion flower semi-dry organic wine is just a variation.  “I made bimblim sweet organic wine only because the fruit was being wasted in my garden.”  Incredibly, he has made curry patta organic semi-dry wine.  All his wines are branded as Goan Home Made Wines.  Proof of their authenticity is the fact that they all have been making wines at home for over three decades.  They can talk the talk and walk the walk.

Medicinal wines 

“I do wine only for research purposes, to see which wine is a cure for colds for example.  I am not interested in making money because economy of scale works only on commercial scale production,” John, a medical microbiologist (St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai) explains.  Sip on this please.  His mango spice wine has these ingredients: ginger, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, amlaki (amla), green tea, carrot, pineapple, grape, mango and wheat germ.

The royal spice wine is a stately concoction of: figs, dates, raisins, amlaki, onion, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, carrot, cardamom, pepper, cashew, green tea, ajwain and wheat germ.  “As garlic, ginger and onion is good for colds, my royal spice wine is a cure for that.”  John, who has his own yoga therapy centre at Margao for treating psychosomatic disorders, with degrees in alternate medicine, yoga therapy and holistic healing, also says, “Turmeric in wine is as good as neem if you go by their individual properties and by the way, a wine made from them is as good as consuming turmeric or neem in any other form.  For instance, if you ask me why I introduce green tea in both these wines, the answer is because of its medicinal benefits which I recognize as a medical microbiologist.”

He believes his homemade wines can help build body resistance because they give the body natural minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids and enzymes.  He enforces the point gently, “My wines are not table wines.  It is very important you understand that.”

Made in a Goan home

Homemade Goan winesAnslem and Mary Mascarhenas (she makes and sells pickles too) want a 30-year-old hobby to culminate into a commercial version in the coming months.  They began making wine from grape and pomegranate in Indore where Anslem worked in a bank and Mary taught in a private school.  “Pomegranate is easily available in Madhya Pradesh and of course as always you start with grape.”  Now they make wine from the jamun fruit, cashew, ginger, pomegranate, amla, papaya, grape, chikoo, pineapple and plum; all sweet wines.  Their brand name is Santanse Wines.

And if you think making wine at home is a stroll in the park, think again.  Making wine, to perfection that is, is not an easy task.  Despite the abundance of wine making recipes on the internet and elsewhere, it is indeed difficult, and it must be said completely different from making table wines.  “The juicing process comes first, and the simultaneous stirring and crushing all over again takes two weeks.  If you include the fermentation, it takes three months.”  The easiest to make he says is cashew, jamun, pomegranate and grape wine “because there is less sediment.”  Ginger wine is the most difficult to make he says because the juice extraction process is extremely tedious.  “Jamun and cashew wine is less time consuming because of their high content of pectin which is a clearing agent.”

Last year a Siolim resident showed them some tomato wine and this year they started producing it, but as a dry wine, their first.  Their first big break came at a wine festival in 2011.  “By then we had a 7-year-old (2007) matured wine and the response was great.”  Today, their best sellers are jamun, cashew and ginger wine and they intend to promote their cashew wine abroad after the core problems are solved.  “Some people have already agreed to market it abroad.”
Next on the anvil is a wine made from the lichi fruit - “but after we source a provider in north India” – and rice wine – “we have already experimented with this and should start making it after the monsoon because you can’t ferment anything during the rains.”  They also plan to launch a herbal wine soon by adding herbs as ingredients in the wine making process.

Carrot and orange wine anyone?

Mary Carvalho is more proof that Goa’s vintners come packaged specifically they are matured in age, have over three decades of wine-making experience and are retired from a serious profession.  Mary, 64, is a retired teacher and lives in a large old home in Velsao and has a potpourri of wines made from grape, ginger, cashew, kokum, jamun, carrot and pineapple.  She has even experimented with a carrot and orange (sweet lime) combo wine which went down well with foreign tourists at a festival recently.  “I started making wine 33 years ago from grape, later ginger and have never looked back since.”  This year, much too late into the mango season she launched her first attempt at making mango wine. 
Making wine from pineapple is the most difficult she says because of the fruit’s inherent sourness.  “Unlike pineapple wine, ginger is really a steady wine.  Kokum wine is also a steady wine and the easiest to make.”  Her brand name is Goan Home Made Wines and her production tips the 500 bottle level annually, which is definitely on the higher side.  As for achieving perfection as wine makers, they all strive towards that goal.  “One day I decided that the flavour of my cashew wine was not strong enough, so I tried crushing the cashew skin as well while juicing.  The point is, I realized I wasn’t doing that in the first place.”  In unison they throw up this challenge: Keep our wines for as long as you want, the years don’t matter, just keep your bottle capped firmly.”

It’s not cheap either making wine at home.  “Last year I bought one jamun for one rupee at Vasco.  Later I paid Rs 300 for a small basket of jamun at Mapusa.  This year I drove to Sawantwadi and bought a big basketfull of jamun for Rs 1,000.

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Organic farm in Goa

Nutritional bang for your buck

July 29-August 4, 2013

Lionel Messias

At 65, David Gower (“not to be confused with the cricketer, I was born before him”) might have “been a foreigner wherever I lived” – but in the 17 straight years that he has spent in Goa, he appears to have found his mission, possibly, even his passion in life - organic foods.  When we met at his residence cum packaging unit in Vaddy, Siolim, he showed me a list of 44 organic cereals, rice, honey etc he had finalized for 2013-14 including several he had hitherto not sold; which he was about to distribute to vendors in Pune.  The list also included four pastas (wheat, spinach, carrot, beetroot) he is going to introduce.  Their list included not easily found items too like amaranth popped (like in popping of popcorn).  Considered to be the fruit of a plant and not a grain; say hello to daily protein needs with complex carbohydrates, as a substitute to animal protein, which often comes packaged with fat and cholesterol.

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