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Indian Tea, Merlot Wine


Ghazal, a blend of merlot red wine, infused with the deep intensity of Indian Chai Masala black spicy tea.


Poet Chai Masala - Independent Review 2nd March 2018
My first impressions when receiving the bottle of Poet Chai Masala was that it was an uninspiring bottle of wine. Whilst a book should never be judged by its cover it would be remiss for anyone in the wine industry to not believe that a bottles label can catch a buyer’s eye as they wander along the aisles and purvey the myriad of wines available to them, either in person or through online purchases. In fact this becomes ever more important to online retailers as the label becomes the standout marketing tool with the absence of one’s ability to pick up the bottles and receive a more physical and literal impact of the wine makers product.
The second thing I looked for was the grape year and alcoholic proof of the wine. I was very surprised to see there was no year of production noted on the bottle at all, this is a first for me when trying a wine for the first time. Is there a reason for this that is being kept from the buyer? Surely any respectable wine maker would want to inform its clientele of the year of harvest for the grapes as this so obviously has such a bearing on the prevailing weather conditions and resulting grape crop for that year. This seems a strange omission and whilst there may be a good reason that is unbeknownst to me on this particular occasion, perhaps being as it’s a wine and tea blend, it left me with a feeling of the grape crop being used in this wine not being the top of the winemaker’s agenda, which was slightly concerning in a market that is ripe (forgive the pun) with competition.
As a lover of Merlot wine myself its normally something I look for in my wine buying choices, it took me a couple of moments to even find the grape variety for this wine, its displayed very small on the front label almost incidentally, this again I feel is a miss in its marketing, buyers want to understand the grape variety to make informed decisions. The last thing I noticed about its production was the label on the front of the bottle, it was stuck at an angle and not level with the bottle, a small issue perhaps, but one that smacks of a small independent winemaker and a manual production line. Whilst this in itself should not preclude a purchase, it does not reflect well on the winemaker’s eye for detail.
Upon opening the bottle the overriding aroma is one of iced-tea rather than the usual puncheon grape smell one might expect, which is surprising given its tea content is just 6%. The bouquet has a very perfume aroma to it and is very different to a ‘standard’ wine available that one might expect to consume with a spicy meal. The bouquet is very lavender in nature and there’s no fruitiness that you might expect from such a wine, certainly no savoury fruits such as blackcurrants or earthiness that one might also expect. There’s a slight smokey essence although overall the wine has a very fresh and summery aroma.
Whilst the bottles label gives a 14% alcohol level there’s a surprising lack of legs in the glass which gives the impression of lower alcohol content, perhaps due to its sweeter and less earthy nature than your typical 14% red wine. As a lover of a tannin strong wine you’ll find this Poet Chai Masala is devoid of any tannin feel, either instant or lingering, it’s light on the tongue and retains that very summery and fruitful texture despite the lack of fruitful aroma. The lasting taste on the tongue long after the wine is drunk is one of lavender and sweetness, something that you might not expect from a new world red. This in itself is hard to compute during consumption.
This is not a wine that can be drunk in large amounts over a long night with friends, it’s a wine that would work well specific meals and yes, I think this does work well with spicy food as its winemakers intended. Having consumed this myself alongside a spicy Indian meal it does provide a contrary taste that works well against the harsh spiciness of some foods. I would suggest the spicier the meal the more attractive this wine would become to provide a divergent experience for the drinker.
Overall I found this to be a unique experience and one that I would try again, although if I had never tried this wine and was walking past it inside a supermarket or wine merchants I would unfortunately continue in doing exactly that, walk past it! Its lack of attention grabbing visuals, coupled with its lack of grape production year or as a matter of fact, lack of any information at all as to its production or country of grape origin (other than being bottled in Spain) would have me picking a competing bottle for my evening meal. Large numbers of wine drinkers will have favourite countries, regions and years for their wines, I certainly do, so not placing this information on the bottle sadly detracts from its marketability.
Overall a nice wine and something completely different from what one might expect. The winemaker has a product that could do well but is massively let down by areas outside of the wines actual taste, which will not help this become a strong seller.

Chai Masala