Want to know about a unique place in the heart of Kolkata which comes vibrantly alive, particularly during Christmas? It is also the birthplace of a distinct homemade drink that will amp up your taste palette. But before I reveal more to you, let me walk you down the streets of Kolkata, which houses this special place. Take a metro, get down at the Chandni Chowk Station and from there it is a five-minute walk.
The place is called Bow Barracks and its architecture and history carry with it a rich colonial history of the city. Just behind the Bowbazaar Police Station, take a narrow lane and you shall step into a world that might seem distinct from the entire cityscape. The British began to rule Bengal in the 17th century and children were born out of wedlock or love between the British and Indian citizens. They came to be known as Anglo-Indians and they are the ancestors of the many inhabitants of Bow Barracks of today. Upon our independence in 1947, many members of the Anglo-Indian community migrated to other countries but many still live within the red brick walls of Bow Barracks.
Bow Barracks was originally built as staying quarters for the British troops during the First World War. The troops were supposed to be allocated flats according to their ranks. However, they refused to settle down there and preferred to stay back at Fort William instead. It was then that these quarters were allotted to the Anglo-Indian community, who by then formed a major part of the British workforce in India.
On Christmas, every year, Bow Barracks is adorned with lights, and Christmas trees and the festive spirit is in full swing. It is also this special time of the year when the residents of Bow Barracks start brewing their famously acclaimed homemade wines. Every year people from all over the world come to this tiny universe to taste and also take home some of the best wine obtainable.
A prominent wine-maker from the locale described the arduous process of wine-making: “I have been making wine for the past fifteen years and the key to brewing crystal clear wine is to preserve it better. I start preparing wine in the month of January and by December my wine is ready.”.Her secret to distinct vinification is the recipe that has been passed on to her by her grandmother. “We all follow similar recipes but our wine tastes diverse and that is because our process of fermentation and preservation is different. Personally, I keep the foggy part of my wine separate and use it to brew the next year’s wine.”
Another famous local wine-maker described her process saying “You will have to keep stirring the wine to derive the most flavor out of it and we make it for home consumption during holidays.” These incredible vintners are proficient at making ginger wine and grape wine. If you are looking to have warm wine during winter, ginger wine will soothe your palette. Another unique wine brewed there is the dragonfruit wine.
The secret of Bow Barrack’s authentic homemade wines is found in the recipes that have been handed down for generations, the long preservation process and the richness of the wine are amplified by the whole festive spirit. You must sip it to believe me!
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