Wine, Bhajji and... Luck?!

MWWC#8 - LUCK

 

 

I have written this blog post for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #8 (MWWC#8). I am very happy and honored to write my first post in this series.

A group of oenophiles and bloggers have started this contest and this month is part 8 of the series. The tradition has been that, each month a topic is selected by the previous month's winner, voted and winners announced. This month’s topic  - LUCK was chosen by  last month's winner The Sweet Sommelier. To learn more about this contest, or if you like to vote for my post please click here.

What does LUCK have to do with anything?

In my mother tongue (aka Tamil) to be 'lucky' or just luck is referred to as ‘Adhirshtam’ (written and pronounced in Tamil like this).

Trivia alert: Tamil is the language spoken in the southern most state of Tamil Nadu in India (Tamil Nadu means the land of the Tamil speaking people) .

This word Adhirshtam literally translates as ‘something that shows up in one’s life at its own whim’.

That is exactly my thought about luck.

Being raised in a conservative middle class home in Chennai (capital city of Tamil Nadu), the words luck, fate and destiny were used synonymously. In the Indian culture, a lot of meaning is attributed to things that are destined to happen and how one’s luck or fate has a HUGE role to play in that.

Somehow this theory never added up to be anything meaningful for me.

If every action and event in our lives are destined to happen a certain way, why should anyone ever bother to wake up from bed every morning?

I am a staunch believer that we make our own destinies. While I do not disregard everyday miracles, coincidences and to some degree being at the right place at the right time, none of this matter in the absence of hard work, perseverance and discipline.

The story of Bhajji

For those who are new, my blogs are about pairing wine with Indian (street) food.

For this blog post, I have picked one of the most famous, affordable, tasty Indian street foods called Bhajji. Bhajji is commonly sold in many streets and beaches of Chennai. It is unbelievable how many (both young and old) street food vendors sell this fried delicacy on the beaches of Chennai.

Marina beach is the most crowded beach in Chennai and is the 2nd longest in the world. This 2 minute video captures my Chennai and Marina beach remarkably well. 

I have nostalgic memories of eating hot Bhajjis combined with the caressing touch of the gentle sea breeze in Marina beach. Those were the days!

One thing that always stood out for me is, how for every 10 feet on the beach someone is selling this Bhajji. It almost seems like, there are more people selling Bhajjis than consuming them. 

One of the reasons I chose this delicacy for this post is because, when I thought about luck,  the optimistic, hopeful, sweaty faces of the street food vendors of Chennai beaches immediately flashed in my mind’s eye.

Here is why:

I have always marveled the tenacity and hard work of each of these street food vendors. They wake up everyday to make the same Bhajjis that so many of their competitors make and yet come to the Marina with so much hope of making a profit. And then repeat the same cycle the next day. If these people depended on ‘luck’ to take them through the day, they would have to go back home with stale Bhajjis and an empty stomach.

Mulling over all these thoughts I get my ingredients ready to fry the Bhajjis. First, I mix the Bhajji batter. Then, I chop up some onions and potatoes thinly to use as fillings for the Bhajji. Lastly, I dip them in the Bhajji batter and fry them. The aroma of the Bhajjis fills the entire house and also brings back so many childhood memories like it was just yesterday...

The wine pairing with Bhajji

About the wine pairing... when I thought about what wine to pair with the Bhajji, I immediately thought of sparkling wines.

While I have no doubt that a sparkling wine and Bhajji would be delicious, I was wondering why I did not blink an eye when I chose sparkling wine for this dish?

I think the reason is, the thought of Marina beach reminds me of how my father would always take us there for any celebration or milestone in our lives.

He would never admit this, but one of the reasons for going to the beach in Chennai was because it was one of the cheapest ways to celebrate. Yet, there was an aspect of grandeur to it. There was something so special and personal to sit as a family forming a circle on the sandy beach – and calling out to the various vendors when they pass us by to get our taste of the street foods of Chennai. I feel this exact same way while opening a bubbly - it turns every day in to a Friday, every occasion extra special and every sip a reminder of the holidays and festivities.

CONFESSION: One of the very first forms of wine I have consumed and fallen in love with is sparkling wine. There is an aspect of toasting and celebrating that makes a sparkling wine so special for me and I associate it with a lot of joy and happiness. And among the sparkling wines, Gloria Ferrer is one of the early ones I have tasted. While I have had the good fortune of tasting many other brilliant Champagnes and sparkling wines over the years, Gloria Ferrer is still very nostalgic for me. This nostalgia aspect of the wine also seemed like the perfect reason to pair with the Bhajji.

So, I purchased a Blanc de Noirs (meaning wine made with Red grapes only - Pinot Noir in this case) Gloria Ferrer.

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TASTING NOTES

I took a nice big bite of the crunchy Bhajji and washed that down with the Gloria. There was a spicy kick to the Bhajji (due to the spices in the batter) which worked nicely with the stone fruit flavors of the bubbly. The fact that Bhajjis are a fried delicacy was an advantage because, the acidity of the wine cut through the oily Bhajjis beautifully.

While the onions and potatoes were fantastic as fillings, this remarkably effervescent sparkling wine would have paired nicely even with hot serrano pepper Bhajjis. I duly noted this for next time.

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THE VERDICT

Just like I imagined, the Bhajjis and sparkling wine were made for each other. While nibbling the Bhajjis and sipping my wine, an article I had read sometime back came to mind...

The article claimed that there were a group of sailors traveling from the occident (west) to the orient (east) and they 'accidentally' observed that some wines they consumed were more 'fizzy' than the others. This effervescence made these wines refreshing and so easy to drink during their long, arduous journey. This phenomenon was later associated with a second fermentation that happened inside the bottle of certain wines due to some residual yeast and sugar.

 Some may call this chance, luck or sheer coincidence. I agree that all of this may be true, but there is no denying the eons of effort put together by so many Champagne houses to perfect the production process of sparkling wine - after the first 'chanced upon' observation.

The various steps involved to make a bottle of sparkling wine never ceases to amaze me:

  • The very many methods of 2nd fermentation: Traditional, Charmat (Tank, Cuve close), Partial, Transfer fermentation methods and etc. to name a few.
  • The methodical process of riddling and disgorging.
  • Perfecting the final touch with the art of dosage.
  • Bottling the wine ever so carefully to retain the effervescence for consumption even after years.

While one sailor may have gotten ‘lucky’ to observe a second fermentation purely by chance, it has taken countless hours of dedication, discipline and passion to produce this beautiful creation called a sparkling wine.

Finally, I cannot think of a better way to wrap up than with the beautiful words of our President which sums it all up so succinctly:

"I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

---Thomas Jefferson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+Kavitha

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