Make Mine a Methuselah

Magandeep Singh on why large-format bottles are best for Indian weddings

Formats-Sizes-(1)So, what do you get when you combine a burger chain with a winery? An upsized bottle. While my career in stand-up continues to show resolute signs of not flinching above fledgling, the quip on large bottles is no laughing matter, really.

Champagne Drappier
They are the pioneer of large-format bottled champagnes. Their brut is currently available in three-litre (jeroboam) and six-litre (rehoboam) sizes.

Moët & Chandon
The world’s biggest champagne brand is also big on sizes, although, currently, they only stock 1.5-litre bottles in India.

Carpineto Dogajolo
This wine, which is made on the lines of a baby Super Tuscan, comes in the three-litre (double magnum) size.

Cavalli Tenuta Degli Dei
The fashion house, which embodies all that is flamboyant and shiny, also makes wine (pretty decent stuff) that can be had in 1.5-litre (magnum) casings.

Prosecco Bottega Gold
Want the bling, but don’t want to break into the family vault for it? Then, this might just be the bottle for the evening. With stunning packaging and a pleasant sip, this is an affordable Italian sparkling wine that comes in a nice gold magnum bottle.

The Big Daddies India is the land of opulence. It is the mystic lair where the holistic meets the gaudy, the calm meets the caliente. It appears to simultaneously stink and shine, like a mackerel by moonlight. Marriages in India are a fine example of just how much we love the lavish. Families will save for a lifetime, being overtly tight-fisted, just so they have money to shamelessly squander when the occasion arrives. It isn’t as much a display of love as it is a way to maintain social standing, or, even one-up peers and relatives. Everything else waxes and wanes, but the marriage market is recession-free.

So, we have a festive occasion, the biggest kind an Indian can possibly know. And, we have a celebratory drink that promotes the bonheur of the moment: wine. Add a sparkle, and it becomes the epitome of celebration. Come to think of it, it is almost baffling that champagne sales aren’t sky-high in India given how obsessed with ostentation we are. The only thing better than popping a bottle of champagne at a function is to pop multiple bottles, or even large-size ones — magnum, double magnum, too-big-to-hold and this-must-be-a-cannon.

How did large-format bottling not manage to get entirely monopolised by Indian wedding revellers? How did they escape their bling-seeking sonar? I can’t think of any population that’s more aptly suited to drinking good wine from bottles that are too big for our grasp.

There is an ageing aspect to large-format bottles too. Wines in such packaging age slower than usual, which makes them last longer. As a result, especially in the case of premier cru wines and cult wines, the prices of large formats not only rise faster, they also hold for longer periods than regular bottles. Also, given how they are made in smaller quantities, the exclusivity of possessing one automatically increases the value quotient. So, it isn’t just about brash displays of wealth, but also astute connoisseurship and a deep understanding of the rewards of patience.

In the months to come, as also the years, I’m sure large-bottle formats will become all the rage in India. Given how Indians exist and function in families, and live and move in large groups, these will come in handy for entertaining. So, if you haven’t already stocked a few magnums or methuselahs just yet, remember to look out for them on your next outing to the liquor store. And, don’t feel shy if the others stare as you lug your haul. Sometimes, size does matter. And, in this case, they are envious, since you are the proud one walking around with the largest in the room.