From the time the first Bindaas opened in the summer of 2016, Michael King was entertaining the idea of commissioning custom wine blends to complement the Indian street food at Ashok Bajaj’s restaurant in Cleveland Park. But King, the group general manager and beverage director at Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, didn’t seriously pursue the thought until he tasted the fruits of a California winemaker’s labor.
After King collaborated with Diego Roig of the Les Lunes vineyard in Mendocino County, Bindaas introduced both a white and a red blend under its own label, Cuvée Bindaas, at its two restaurants this past November. Sababa — the Israeli eatery that shares space with Bindaas in Cleveland Park — was part of the trial period as well.
The experiment was successful enough, King says, that he’s planning another trip to California in the spring to discuss the next batch.
What first stood out to King about the Les Lunes wine was the pleasant acidity and a low alcohol level — Cuvée Bindaas is around 12.5 percent — despite a hot climate that can result in a more potent end result.
“I really like his restraint in winemaking and low alcohol, which I think is really important for spice,” King says. “Too much alcohol can make things taste hotter.”
Bindaas originally got about a barrel of each blend, King says. Some of the wine was bottled, and some was delivered in kegs that get tapped at Bindaas’s second location in Foggy Bottom. The wines sell for $13 by the glass and $52 by the bottle.
The white blend — made with 40 percent, 40 percent Chardonnay, and 20 percent Colombard — has been received well enough that customers started asking for it at Rasika and the Bombay Club. Presented with tasting notes of Meyer lemon and green apple, the wine represents King’s desire for a blend “that had enough acid to kind of clean your palate but also something that wouldn’t overwhelm the flavors with the food.”
The red blend — 40 percent Syrah, 25 percent Zinfandel, 25 percent Carignane, and 10 percent Cabernet Franc — reflects King’s goal to have a Rhône style wine with medium tannins and a strong acidity.
For now, at least, both are still available.
“We still have some, not in great quantities,” King says.