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Delhi Wine Club
Trivializing the Terroir
 January 10 2012

Indian wine industry started with big claims of having an identifiable and distinguished terroir whether the vineyards were located in Karnataka or Maharashtra but of late the business exigencies have made the claims less defendable as bigger producers like Sula and Grover try to find means to go around the unfair excise laws and the business expansion plans are put into place.

Sula came into the wine scene a decade ago, followed by several other wineries because of the Maharashtra government’s policy of 2001 encouraging local farmers to grow wine grapes and make wine (by then the Nashik belt had already switched to eating grapes and had become the most important region in the country). ..more


Posted at : 16:13


Sinful to impose Sin Tax on Wine
 December 24 2012

In a bid to finance combating non-communicable diseases, and reduce consumption of harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol, the government may consider action on a plan document for the 12th five-year plan recommending imposing sin tax on cigarettes and alcohol but it would be sinful to impose such tax on low alcohol products like wine and beer.

 The recommended 12th plan document will be submitted to the National Development Council (NDC) presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on 27 December. It proposes to impose a sin tax on cigarettes and alcohol products not only to decrease the consumption of these harmful substances but also purports to help finance a part of the health budget during the 12th five-year plan (2012-2017). ..more


Posted at : 11:11


Showing Sympathy and Solidarity to Soldera
 December 10 2012

The Mafia-like act of vandalism and perfidy by intruders who broke into the wine cellar of the cult Montalcino producer Gianfranco Soldera, draining out 62,600 liters of liquid gold of the Case Basse estate, deserves the strong condemnation it received from several wine lovers who sympathized and showed their solidarity with Soldera, writes Subhash Arora who met him for the second time at the World Wine Symposium in Villa d’Este last month.

Last Sunday night the vandals opened the spigots (valves) of 10 big barrels in which six vintages of Brunello di Montalcino (2007-2012) were maturing, thus draining out the equivalent of 80,000 liters of one of the most coveted red ..more


Posted at : 13:34


A Tale of Two Universities
 October 29 2012

A few years ago, at a private function at one of the dorms of IIT Delhi, we were not allowed to serve wine whereas in a public concert on the lawns of a college in Great Noida across Delhi, not only was a vodka brand advertised freely but it was served openly and practically pushed down the throats of the special invitees who like the fiery water. It might be a sign of the changing times or an exception but I hope it is former.

Barely a few years ago, it was a reunion for our batch of engineers from my alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. The celebrations were scheduled at one of my favourite hostels, Shivalik. I had spent 5 years of my youth in this very building and like all my batch mates was quite excited about the event. Following the           ..more


Posted at : 17:19


Boo Boo Blooper- Chapter 2
 September 29 2012

When I read a wine article in a newspaper that starts with ‘It’s only when the Indian wine connoisseur can tell the Rioja from the Gaia, the Bordeaux from the Bouvet-Ladubay that an Indian wine company goes beyond the vineyards of Nashik, to the Loire Valley,’ I switch off even when it follows with an interesting report about a French winery in Loire Valley owned by an Indian company.

An interview with Abhay Kewadkar of Four Seasons with a journalist of Livemint is not the subject of my Blog; that is simply the journalist’s prerogative. What upset me is the way the article started. I wonder if the journalist likes to show off the poetic acumen, but I could not see the connection between Rioja and Gaia or Bordeaux and Bouvet Ladubay. They say a good wine is poetry in the bottle. I wonder if that inspired the ..more


Posted at : 12:28


Wine as a Tool of Diplomacy
 September 27 2012

The headline of a news report in The Australian-‘Julia Gillard schmoozes leaders in pursuit of UN seat’ made me wonder once again that while the world uses wine even as a part of the diplomatic armoury, we in India are too dogmatic not to allow it being served at the official functions and it is time to consider serving Indian wine at our Stat Banquets.

My eyes popped open when I read today the heading of this news item on the online edition of the Australian newspaper- The Australian.  ‘WITH a little wine, soft music and an impressive view, Julia Gillard has worked to woo influential leaders ahead of a UN vote on a Security Council seat.’ screams the bye-line. Australia is in the ..more


Posted at : 10:00


Facing the Book on Wine
 September 17 2012

Facebook and other social media are big communication media and are here to stay despite their intrusion and interference in the daily routine but thanks to Facebook which I use infrequently to stay in touch with my friends across the globe, I was able to connect with a couple of interesting producers and Facebook wine friends near Lisbon during my recent trip to Portugal thanks to Facebook.

Ask anyone about the benefits of social media like Facebook and they will tell you several  positives (unless they invested in the IPO!). In fact, you would sound foolish in you are not Facebook savvy or have not joined several user groups or don’t appear in the FB regularly. There are even songs featured on TV on what it can do for you. Ask me and I would tell you all about the intrusions and interferences, requests and favours ..more


Posted at : 13:08


Difference between Chardonnay and Beaujolais
 September 03 2012

A recent article in a newspaper comparing Chardonnay with Beaujolais sounded really absurd and is only one example of the journalists using wine terms rather loosely, who would do well to understand before bandying about the various terms, creating uncalled for confusion in the minds of wine novices who are usually overawed by the wine terminology and depend on newspapers as an important source of reliable information about wines.

The recent article in Indian Express made me sit up and take note of what I think was a blunder; although it did achieve the intended purpose of catching my eyeballs though. The article said, ‘though most well-heeled and well-travelled Indians know their Chardonnay from their Beaujolais….’. Was it a ploy to see if the reader can ..more


Posted at : 15:10


Cheap Shot at Wine
 August 31 2012

While we are striving to have the taxes brought down in India to encourage the consumption of wine, Australian health bodies are pushing the government to raise taxes on wine almost four-fold to reduce the consumption in order to combat the rising cost of death and injury fuelled by alcohol, writes Subhash Arora who has been advocating the tax reduction on wine for a decade to encourage people to switch from high alcohol drinks to wine.

During my visit to several co-operatives or big-sized wineries around the globe, I have been amused and have often written about the wine at several big wineries and co-operatives at around a dollar a liter as being cheaper than gas (petrol).  A government inquiry in Down Under is now being told that wine is cheaper than bottled water ..more


Posted at : 12:34


Fruity wines vs. Fruit Wines
 August 20 2012

One of the main flavour component in wines is the fruit-it could be subtle or bold and forward, sometimes known as fruit bomb that can make the wine interesting to novices but boring to the initiated whereas fruit wines are simply wines made from fruits other than grapes, the basic premise being that any fruit having sugar is fermentable into wine.

It is traditional to call wines made from grape (vine) simply as wine. Grape juice has an interesting quality-after fermentation and aging certain ethers are formed.  These ethers not only smell and taste like different fruits, but of grapes grown in different soils and under different climatic or micro climatic conditions Although each grape has its own DNA and a spectrum of flavours one can expect from the ethers for a particular..more


Posted at : 16:52


Follow Your Heart
 August 13 2012

An unusual invite to the first anniversary Dinner of Friends and Single Malt Club at the Hotel Trident, Gurgaon followed by the 10th anniversary dinner of the Delhi Wine Club at the Spirit Restaurant in Connaught Place, the same venue as the first club event, exactly 10 years later, reinforced my belief that we need to have more such special purpose groups, preferably wine clubs but also single malt, scotch whisky, Cognac, gourmet foods or whatever you are passionate about-just follow your heart.

I was surprised when Pramod Krishna, President of the 'Friends and Single Malt Club’ invited me (and vigorously followed up) to attend a dinner at Hotel Trident in Gurgaon to celebrate their first anniversary of the club as a special invitee. I excused myself as ..more


Posted at : 11:10


Taxes may Drip Down but not Drop
 June 07 2012

Whenever I meet journalists and producers, there favourite question is when the taxes are coming down. However, I was a bit rattled when told in the recent past- at a UGCB tasting and VieVinum that the taxes are about to come down in India. With sudden spurt of reports in the print media, there is need to warn the fine wine producers to take a cautious approach to the news some of which could be planted.

Nobody denies that the talks between EU and India for the FTA have been progressing, albeit slowly during the last 4 years and the Indian side is quite inclined to reduce the customs duties on wine and spirits, if not eliminate them. The excise monster and the big VAT on wine will play the party pooper and  the tough, archaic and complic more


Posted at : 16:47


Blog: Raising of Iron Curtain for Wines
 May 24 2012

May 24: We talk of wines from Bordeaux, Barolo, Barossa and Baramati, we discuss the terroir of Burgundy, Napa, Mosel and Maipo, we marvel at the indigenous grapes of Italy, Spain and Austria but do we pay attention to the rumbling sounds of wines from the erstwhile communist countries and around, making good wines and knocking at the doors of the world market?

While judging at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition last November, we came across wines with grapes like Saparevi red and Mtsvane white grapes. Most people in my panel of which I was the President had not tasted these varietals before. But the wine had enough personality and vivaciousness to deserve awards. That’s when more


Posted at : 10:33


Oh-To Be the First one
 May 01 2012

An article in a wine magazine recently sang and danced about Valdivieso wines from Chile being introduced in India, completely oblivious of and not mentioning the fact that it was already introduced by another importer in 2002 and marketed for 5 years. It makes me wonder if people in the world of wine here are so ignorant of the market or are too close- hearted to give credit to someone for being the first.

The article appeared to be a booster for the image of Agnetta International, a Gurgaon based  company which has been importing liquor and had  added a brand of wine from the USA. It has recently acquired the rights from the Chilean producer Viña Valdivieso which has been known for its sparkling wines but in India made a good presence of more


Posted at : 18:13


We shall Overcome
 April 17 2012

An article that I wrote recently for an international magazine about the structure of market for imported wines in India, got the editors in a tizzy as it had such overtones of negativity that it made them wonder if it would scare away the producers. I feel I must project a true picture with a hope that things are bound to improve although it will take an unknown amount of time before they get better.

In every circle of discussion, the highlight is high taxation that is a constraint in the development of wine culture in India. True, the customs duty is 160% of the assessable value, soon to come down marginally to 150%, but that is only half the story-nay, a .more


Posted at : 15:59


Lower Drinking Age, Tighten Laws
 March 26 2012

In a country like India where voting age is 18 years and the cancer causing cigarettes and gutka can be sold to adults over 18 years of age, it does not make sense to keep the drinking age at 25 when this law is openly flouted anyway as was seen in the horrible mishap in Delhi a couple of days ago, when the killers were under the legal age, making the strict enforcement of the laws against drunk driving with severe punishment for the defaulters essential rather than keeping the age at 25 years for a majority of responsible adults

Two young men in an ebriated state killed the driver of an auto rickshaw with bricks a couple of days ago. His fault? He brushed past their stationary car and scrat .more


Posted at : 16:17


Pitching for Google and Wine
 January 19 2012

Dec 23: The recent efforts of the government of India and the proposed limitation in the US would have serious ramifications on the free knowledge super-highway, with a miniscule possibility of affecting wine knowledge in India, the need to control the permeation into excess obscenity and terrorism notwithstanding.

The recent case in the High Court in India putting the service providers like Google, Yahoo and Facebook in the dock if they do not monitor and remove objectionable matter on their sites is not only impractical, but they also have a valid point in their defence .more


Posted at : 14:40


European Union Beware
 December 30 2011

A recent headline screaming from a National daily claiming that the customs duties are certain to be brought down from 150% to 50% next year on the expensive EU wines as the FTA is signed between India and EU, has raised the optimism of the EU producers and potential importers alike as the confirming source was claimed to be the Prime Minister’s Office but they must tread the optimistic path with caution.

The issue of reduction in duties on wines from EU has been going on since 2007 with our government strongly opposing the reduction in customs duties. However, there seems to be a gradual thaw and reportedly it is willing to concede now, according to a report in ET. It is pertinent to note however,  that the report is sourced to the Prime Minister’s.more


Posted at : 15:22


Wine Year That Was
 December 23 2011

Dec 23: In India, like in most other countries, the year 2011 started with a note of pessimism that later changed into optimism especially for the Indian wines but there was no visible change in the government policies except for a dream that the customs duties may come down next year with the speculation on whether the proposed FTA agreement with EU would be signed in the coming February talks and the proposed FDI in retail that would help better availability of wines, relegated to future.

If one read the earlier media reports many of which were speculative, or planted stories with several inaccuracies, there was pessimism all around and the dooms day was predicted. Extra stocks with the wineries, disgruntled farmers unable to sell their grapes ..more


Posted at : 11:47


Mind Your Language
 September 26 2011

The recent Chilean wine tasting organised by ProChile and the Embassy of Chile was covered widely by the media but the language used by some of the reports might have been original to the writers but left a bitter and unpleasant though amusing after-taste. While it is early days yet but the writers and readers in India need to educate themselves on the basic wine vocabulary, writes Subhash Arora.

It is not my intent to go into the content of the article but I will stick to some of the vocabulary used, only to help our Indian readers appreciate the importance of using correct wine language.

‘Swig of spicy red Chile in Indian Wine Glass’ said the heading of the article in a ..more


Posted at : 12:16


Poor Value Pour by the Glass at Oberoi
 September 22 2011

Despite rather high prices charged by the 5-star hotels, they are generally fair to the consumers when selling by the glass, with the standard pour of 150 mL being charged a fifth of the bottle price, encouraging the customer to try a glass. But there are odd ones like the Oberoi and Leela Gurgaon charging one fourth of the bottle price, offering frivolous reasons, writes Subhash Arora who would like to see the standard pour reduced to 125 mL and charged accordingly.

The de facto size of a glass in India has shifted to 150 mL from 125 mL as was the practice several years ago when most restaurants used to charge for 150 mL and pour only 125 mL because of lack of transparency on the Wine Lists and lack of storage equipment like Enometic machine, resulting in some wastage. Almost every restaurant now mentions ..more


Posted at : 11:09


Jeannie's Got a Gun
 September 08 2011

As a principle, I refrain from commenting on statements made by any wine person in the print or online media, even if they criticize me personally no matter how wrong they are, but an article yesterday reported in the Press, with statements purportedly made by Jeannie Cho Lee MW about the Indian wine market appeared so incorrect and potentially misleading that I had to make an exception, with due apology to the wine queen of Hong Kong for whom I have a lot of respect*.

The article reminded me of the above lines in the 20-year old popular song by Aerosmith: Janie’s got a gun. I can hear the sound of her gun but when I meet her in Hong Kong, I want to tell Jeannie, ‘honey what have you done?’ because with a Mast..more


Posted at : 11:04


Case for 6-bottle Case of DF Wine at Arrival
 September 02 2011

With the wine presence and display getting increasingly better at the Duty Free shops at Arrivals in Delhi and soon at other airports, it is time once again to look into the case for allowing 6 bottles of wine in lieu of 2 bottles of hard liquor containing 40% alcohol by volume, even if it means making it a part of the total duty free allowance of up to Rs.25,000 thus also sending a message across that wine is a low alcohol product and delineating it from liquor.

Normally, the customs do allow 3 bottles of wine or 2.25 liters vis-à-vis 2 liters allowed for whisky, vodka, gin, brandy or other distillates. But if the government is conscientious about putting control on alcohol consumption, it needs to calculate the amount of duty free alcohol being allowed in different forms. Assuming a simple calculation of .more


Posted at : 09:51


Of Petrol Aromas and Pee Flavours
 August 06 2011

At a recent lunch in Austria with a couple of Masters of Wine among others, the issue whether petrol aromas in Riesling was a quality or defect came up. A well known Rhone producer had just introduced his Alsace wines and made a comment that the much described petrol aromas and flavours in an aged Riesling was in fact a wine fault. There are many such descriptions in Tasting Notes which could be a quality but a turn- off for some wine drinkers

I am not particularly fond of petrol flavour but it helps me judge the age of a German Riesling older than say, a decade. Many well-known producers and journalists often proudly describe this as a characteristic of fine Riesling. One of the MWs said that the Germans had meant ‘petrolly’ which has no equivalent in English and petrol was not meant to be the way to describe it. A couple of days later a lady wine expert  from Germany .more


Posted at : 12:54


Wine may be Auspicious too
 August 02 2011

Wine is known to be a healthy, lifestyle product that helps build friendships. We know the divine aspect, especially in Christianity. But wine can also be auspicious which I discovered at least in the case of a wine connoisseur businessman of Chandigarh, Yasho Saboo who has seen an exponential rise in the sale of super luxury Swiss watches through Ethos chain stores across India, perhaps aided by the auspicious wine while adding the new line of business a few years ago.

I was invited by Yasho Saboo to Chandigarh  about eight years ago to conduct a couple of cheese and wine evenings at Ethos, the new showroom he was opening to retail high-end luxury Swiss watches that could easily cost upwards of $10,000. Of course he had already performed the usual religious ceremonies. I helped organize and present the wines and did some pairing of food for the evenings. It was a hugely successful affair from his .more


Posted at : 16:29


Mum’s Not the Word
 July 16 2011

July 16: It was surprising to see Mumm champagne being served in tiny coupes rather than the flutes and tulips at the Bastille Day celebrations at the French Embassy in Delhi on Thursday but I would have kept mum except that it was also the last day for our friend Jean Leviol, Senior Trade Counsellor at the Embassy who was leaving after six years in Delhi and I must recognize his support and co-operation in India for the promotion of French wines among other products

It was some time in 2005 when Jean Leviol had just arrived  Delhi and the Delhi Wine Club had organized a farewell dinner for the previous Trade Counsellor at the Diva Restaurant; it turned out to be a welcome dinner for him too. Therefore, I wanted to invite him for his farewell at the next DWC dinner with wines from Bordeaux. It took me a few .more


Posted at : 10:08


Eiswein and Ice Wine of Austria
 July 05 2011

Austria is one of the top three producers of Icewine, known as Eiswein in Austria and Germany, but it was a discovery to learn about their Ice Wine when it was served to me by an Austrian Airlines steward, when I travelled to Austria recenty,coincidentally to attend a Wine Summit where I had the opportunity once again to taste some excellent Eiswein

Icewine is made from the frozen grapes below -7˚C by regulations. The grapes like Riesling and also Vidal (in Canada) are left hanging on the vines past their maturity. When it starts snowing and the temperature goes much below zero, they become like solid balls - with the water in the grape juice freezing. The grapes thus harvested are crushed gently ..more


Posted at : 17:06


Blog: Indian Market Choked not by Taxes Alone
 June 27 2011

June 27: During my discussions with importers and infinite number of producers oversees, the universal lament is that the high taxes are causing the wine industry to choke in India, thus stunting the growth of wine culture. However, this is only part of the story and there are many other factors some of which I have l detailed as under.

Wine import attracts a customs duty of 150%. Add to it the 4% refundable surcharge (not easy to get a refund) and a few sundry add on taxes for all imports, it works out to around 160%. Add to that the excise duty which many foreign producers don’t know or understand. This may turn out to be zero like in Haryana or up to 300% of the CIF (without adding customs duty) in states like Delhi or Tamilnadu. There is an additional VAT of 20-25% ..more


Posted at : 14:47


Strong and Sour Wine
 June 24 2011

There may be a plethora of words describing the flavours of a wine but one does not find the two words commonly used by many novices-Strong and Sour, to define the characteristics of a wine, as I have discovered during my intereaction and discussions with several wine drinkers in India, especially women.

Acidity in a wine, especially the white wine is a very important characteristic. When the wine has too much acidity, it is the most common though incorrect refrain to say the wine is sour which has a negative connotation and means the wine is bad. In fact, the person is describing the wine which can be harsh, having racy acidity. A wine with balan ..more


Posted at : 17:03


With Delhi Excise- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
 June 13 2011

After a delay of three months in announcing the excise policy, the Delhi Government has come out with a policy that does not translate into any significant change for the Indian wines and up to 10% change in the existing rates, making bootleggers laugh while the importers try to hide their tears, reminding me of a song from yesteryears-Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. 

‘Smoke gets in your Eyes’ is a 77-year old but evergreen song frequently recorded by dozens of singers over time, including Platters, Vic Damone, Harry Belafonte and Nat King Cole. With due apologies to the original lyricists, I changed one line in the final stan ..more


Posted at : 17:27


Where UnderAge Adults are Treated Special
 June 03 2011

In  India the voting age is 18 but the young adults under 21- 25 (depending on the states) may not be served wine or any alcohol in most states except Goa, Karnataka, Kolkata and Tamilnadu where the legal age coincides with the voting age. Now the age is proposed to be increased from 21 to 25 in Maharashtra but in La Barrique, one of the three single-Michelin Star restaurants in Torino, the young adults are welcomed with special prices for dinner with wine.

Ristorante La Barrique owned and run by the 50- year old Torino-born Chef Stefano Gallo was opened in 1999 in a not a particularly good location but is popular because of its delicious food and professional service with friendly Chef Stefano and his wife adding to the charm by being very approachable. The Ristorante received the Michelin Star ..more


Posted at : 10:33


Don't Drink and Walk
 May 25 2011

A fellow journalist and judge with me for five years at several international wine events and competitions including MundusVini and Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, the Portuguese journalist Anibal Coutinho flummoxed me when he recently gave me his new business card that had as a slogan- Don't Drink and Walk on the Road.

‘This is actually the short form of one of the mandatory messages one is required to put on every label of a wine or spirit bottle in South Africa,’ Anibal informs me. The full warning is, ‘Don't drink and walk on the road, you may be killed’. One already knows and hopefully follows the ubiquitous ‘Don’t drink and drive’ health warning but why advise ..more


Posted at : 14:36


Wine and Fritto-Italian Pakoras
 May 11 2011

At a reception dinner held on Sunday in Alba in Piemonte, the local dish called Fritto, an equivalent of our Pakoras, except that it is made in flour batter and salt coating vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, spinach and onions, with a different texture and taste than Indian Pakoras, was very popular and interestingly matched very well with various  white wines being served from the region.

Fritto alla Piemontese was the most served and popular snack at the casual reception dinner where the journalists and importers from the world congregating for the Nebbiolo Prima 2011 (tasting the new, ready-to-release vintages of Barolo, Barbaresco and ..more


Posted at : 11:14


Enjoy Envoy di Oberoi sans Vino
 April 29 2011

I enjoy glancing through Envoy, the glossy newsletter from The Oberoi Delhi listing special gastronomical events planned for each quarter. But I was quite disappointed with the April-June issue which showcases Sicilian Specialties at Travertino but sadly neither includes Sicilian wines nor even any mention of wine anywhere in the newsletter, making one wonder if the hotel has turned a teetotaler property for the Spring.

The glossy, well produced newsletter carries the message from the General Manger, Jay Rathore who ‘presents a variety of gastronomical delights with the ‘Threesixty’ presenting new dishes exploring citrus flavours while Travertino continues to celebrate Sicilian ..more


Posted at : 16:57


Time Out- Wine is not Juice for every Mommy
 April 23 2011

Mommy's Time Out is a brand that sells a red and a white Italian wine, a Primitivo from Puglia and a Pinot Grigio-Garganega blend from Delle Venezie. The more recent MommyJuice is produced by California-based Clos LaChance Winery which claims that Mommy is a generic word and no one has a right to own it. The ‘Juice’ also comes in two entry level variants- a white Chardonnay and a red Bordeaux blend, selling for $10 a bottle. Both are aimed primarily at the growing market of women wine drinkers.

It is not my intent to get into the legality but to focus on the propriety of using the name  MommyJuice even if it were the very first wine in the world using Mommy in its label and it had it registered. The name is a misnomer for it gives the impression that wine is  juic..more


Posted at : 10:46


Cannot Care for Cowardly Comments
 March 16 2011

DelWine carries every comment received against the articles, including mine-with minor grammatical editing and to block out efforts of self promotion directly or through lengthy comments, deviating from the issue. But there are occasional mails from anonymous people who attack people personally-at times even with fictitious email addresses. We do not carry such comments and ask people not to hide their identity.

DelWine has always tried to be bold but objective- sticking to facts and at times giving the viewpoint, clearly indicating so. We are never offensive to individuals or groups, be they importers, individuals, producers or governments. There are times when our viewers..more


Posted at : 10:46


Champagne is Wine- So are all Bubblies
 March 11 2011

Mar 12: Despite the best efforts by Champagne to classify a bubbly as champagne only when produced in this French region under strict laws, an average wine drinker still addresses any sparkler as champagne, but surprisingly a vast number also think that Champagne is ‘champagne’ and not wine as I discovered recently at a string of functions organised to celebrate the wedding of a friend’s daughter.

Seeing a flute in my hand during most of the three evenings when the sparkling wine was the celebratory drink, several friends who know me as a ‘wine only’ drinker appro..more


Posted at : 10:10


Size and Age Matter
 February 11 2011

Most wine importers and hotels continue to ignore the importance of the bottle size which is important especially if only one person wants to drink. Vintage is less important for the fine wines in India as the premium wines are expensive and not within the reach of most. It matters more for cheap and inexpensive wines which are often well past their prime when sold in hotels, retail or the friendly bootlegger.

Interestingly, Indian producers got wise to the idea of introducing smaller bottles (375mL half-bottles) many years ago with producers like Sula and Vinsura introducing them in the market. Importers are still reluctant to import half bottles, complaining that the . ..more


Posted at : 16:23


Wine Education a la Indian Wine Academy
 February 08 2011

To many people wine education means  only a formal course that gets one a diploma at the end and perhaps helps them in their jobs or careers, but to us at the Indian Wine Academy it means something else and beyond, as is best explained by a couple of several mails received last week, acknowledging our contribution to wine education.

Every once in a while some traditionalist points out that as an Academy we are not doing a great job since we are not into formal wine programs or conduct courses leadi ..more


Posted at : 14:01


Come to Marlborough Country
 January 12 2011

The latest Wine Spectator Wine of the Week selection, Stoneburn Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2010 at under $ 10 made me sit up and make a mental note of the continuously falling prices of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc during last year or so, that might make my favourite white more affordable in India where some price corrections might help New Zealand increase their share.

There is a seeming paradox in the above slogans but not if you knew that the former relates to Marlboro cigarettes and I have been always an active anti-smoker. More than 15 years ago, I actively campaigned and made the Rotary Club I belonged to, the first Non-Smoker Rotary Club in India when there was still opposition to ban on smoking in public and the ill effects of passive smoking were still being debated. The Marlboro flavor reminded..more


Posted at : 11:17


Sula out price Italian Wines in Oberoi
 January 04 2011

Indian wines seem to be charging ahead in terms of quality, branding and pricing, with Sula Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot commanding premium over the ubiquitous Italian offers from Frescobaldi, discovered Subhash Arora as he visited Hotel Oberoi’s Cecile property in Shimla on Sunday.

It looked like a misprint on the wine list when I read Pinot Grigio Danzante 2008 and Pater Sangiovese 2006 listed at an excellent Rs. 400 a glass (inclusive of sales tax-Rs.333 without it)-both quaffable wines from Marchesi de Frescobaldi, the Tuscan producer represented in India by Brindco. All wines from Sula- Chenin Blanc 2009, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Cabernet Shiraz 2008 and Sartori Merlot 2007 were listed higher at Rs.420 a glass, as was the ..more


Posted at : 14:22


I’d Rather be WET
 December 20 2010

There is a spate of WSET courses being offered in India now but I had considered the possibility of doing the Advance Certificate and Diploma to meet the future demand for wine education six years ago but decided against it since they involved  spirits tasting as well. As a wine-only person, I refused to do or conduct the courses- I’d rather it be WET.

Although there are several possibilities of learning about wine through various educational programmes throughout the world (even small cities in wine producing countries offer courses in winemaking and viticulture at various levels including college degrees and diplomas) but University of California, Davies campus and Adelaide University in Aus ..more


Posted at : 11:55


Call Me Cavaliere- Kahte San’k Kabir
 December 06 2010

The recent announcement of knighthood for the Italian TV series Sandokan’ star Kabir Bedi who will receive the order of merit from the Italian Government on December 9 and who reportedly says ‘you must now call me Cavaliere Kabir Bedi’, made me reflect on the coveted award I also received last year for promotion of wine culture in India and it made me feel even more privileged.

Numerous media reports quoted him, saying, ‘Bedi said he accepts the Knighthood from the Italian Republic with enormous joy and deep gratitude. "It's the perfect symbol of all the love that Italy has showered me with for decades, ever since I played the title ..more


Posted at : 11:23


Drink wine at Seventeen- not Seven

 November 25 2010

The recent revelation by Emma Watson, the co-star in Harry Potter films, that she was given wine by her family at the age of seven might have been made public for its shock value and as publicity gimmick for the latest Harry Potter film released last Friday, but it might send out wrong signals that its fine to start seven-year olds on wine, when  seventeen may be the right age to start under parents’ supervision, writes Subhash Arora.

There has been an onslaught of this news report in the media before the worldwide release on November 19 of the latest film-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I found over 11,000 items listed in Google where the 20-year old actress reveals that her lawyer parents Chris and Jacqueline always treated her like an adult and she was ..more


Posted at : 10:56


Gutka vs. Grapes of Gewürz or Grenache
 November 20 2010

A cursory look at a recent newspaper report would have made people feel sick and mad as they read about two gutka families being united in a matrimonial alliance on November 18 in Delhi, planning to get a bevy of Bollywood stars that alone would cost Rs. 250 million, more than last year’s profits of the entire wine industry.

Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif were part of the entourage for one week’s celebrations, with King Khan reportedly charging $900,000 for his performance for which advances had already been paid. It is another matter that the stars reportedly decided to cancel when the income tax department started probing into which actors ..more


Posted at : 12:22


Singh- The Tee-Total True Singh

 November 17 2010

The spate of recent media reports based on an article from Indo Asian News Service  focusing on my letter to the President of India pleading to allow serving Indian wines at the State banquets for legitimate reasons, especially as several bureaucrats and politicians consume alcohol in private, made an PIO American Sommelier remark about PM Manmohan Singh that needs to be addressed.

“On Twitter, after she commented on the event, I asked Chicago-based sommelier Alpana Singh what she thought the prime minister opened behind closed doors. She replied, “Oh! That’s easy – if he’s a true Singh it’s Johnnie Walker – Blue, Black or red in descending order of preference,” reads the blog at Vino Moda, one of the several blogs that ..more


Posted at : 15:09


Wine is Dead- Long Live the Wine

 November 06 2010

High taxes and dogmatic bureaucracy might be big hurdles in the development of wine culture in India but lack of education is no less a culprit with ill-informed consumers drinking wines that are dead and gone past their prime, thinking that is how wine is supposed to taste, which may leave them unexcited for wine in future, as I discovered for the nth time at a recent party.

At a recent party thrown by a friend, wine was the center of attraction though whisky, single malt, vodka and other poisons were more in circulation. The first small sip of the white wine and I knew it was a disaster. Darkish golden to orange in colour, it did not smell foul but certainly felt dead on the palate. Otherwise a very pleasant wine I Feudi di Rom..more


Posted at : 13:42


Of Mercedes- Benz and Malbec- Barolo

 October 06 2010

A recent media report indicating that a Pune dealer had sold 148 Mercedes- Benz cars in the small town of Aurangabad in Maharashtra validates my long- time stand that the future of premium wines lies in tapping this latent market which has huge clusters of rich people waiting to be enticed to quality wines- but only after the brand smells Mercedes.

There are several statistics already published about our middle and rich classes where the incomes have been rising and the number of HNI (individuals having high net worth) is increasing in cities including Pune, Aurangabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Jullundur etc. The ingress of IT and several other industries and support services has changed the more


Posted at : 16:44


Yoga and Wine Á la Ramdev

 September 29 2010

Reading an email from a fellow journalist friend running the Boston Wine School, informing about a Yoga and Wine Class he is organising with the local yoga legend Roni Brissette, and concurrently watching a TV programme by the iconic Indian yogi Swami Ramdev had me fantasize about the miracles he could perform for the wine industry by promoting the combo and also becoming the biggest winery owner in India in no time.

Roni Brissette is a Boston based Iyenger school certified Yoga teacher who would conduct the 1-hour yoga class followed by wine tasting with Jonathan Alsop and dinner on October 2 (the date merely coincides with the prohibitionist Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday more


Posted at : 12:22


Real Wine with Cork

 September 24 2010

I get several mails asking wine questions that I answer individually to the best of my ability but a recent mail asking me where the real wine with cork was available in a particular city attracted my attention and I realized there might be thousands of new wine drinkers who believe in the myth that the ‘real’ wine must be sealed with a cork and it needs clarification.

Why do we need a cork, screw-cap or any other type of closure to seal the bottle, in the first place? The answer is simple- but we need to understand the reason. Every bottle or can needs a closure. In case of wine, the selection becomes critical. Wine is more


Posted at : 18:18


Banana Wine Follows Mango, Cane Sugar Next
 September 20 2010

After hogging a lot of print space and blogosphere, mango wine news has barely subsided like the bubbles of carbon dioxide after fermentation, only to be followed by the threats of banana wine hitting the market and possibly the hard earned savings of the entrepreneurs. Would cane sugar wine be next on the fertile Indian mind.

If elephants can eat bananas, why not make wine out of it. That is the logic behind a couple in Arunachal Pradesh excited about making wine out of bananas. Why elephants, even monkeys love bananas? So do a majority of humans. But I failed to catch the logic in the PTI report in the Hindustan Times on Sunday, where An Itanagar couple feels more

  Posted at : 13:59 Permalink

Choosing Wines for Health
 September 11 2010

Several readers ask me which wine to choose for health. Although several studies show red wine benefits heart and other body parts there is no one grape, wine or region that can guarantee maximum benefits and my advice is to drink what you like the best, but avoid the really cheap wines which have hardly any anti oxidants.

One reader has gone to the extent of asking which particular brand of wine he should drink. My answer is simple: go according to your budget and pick wines that you like-it does not matter if they are Indian or imported, red or white or pink, still or sparkling. It is slig more

  Posted at : 11:07 Permalink

Indage Vintners is NOT Bankrupt
 September 07 2010

Wine industry outside India appears to have misconstrued the order of the Mumbai High Court a couple of months ago for winding up Indage Vintners and fueled by  rumours, have come to believe that the company has collapsed and gone bankrupt. The fact is that it has since raised substantial capital and is hopefully on way to recovery.

During my recent wine visits to the US, Chile, South Africa and Germany where I have met several wine jurors and journalists from over 50 countries across all continents, the one question many don’t fail to ask or comment on, is whether Indage Vintners (earlier called Champagne Indage), known for Omar Khayyam in many of these countries ove..more

  Posted at : 15:01 Permalink

From the Heart of a Wine Evangelist
 August 13 2010

Over the years people have addressed me as a wine journalist, writer, judge, Cavaliere, sommelier, vino, wine promoter, importer, educator, consultant and some even think I am  from the hospitality industry, with a recent journalist even dubbing me as a wine warrior. But I would best describe myself as a wine evangelist- with a difference.

The FreeDictionary defines an evangelist as an occasional preacher, sometimes itinerant (one who travels from place to place, especially to perform work or a duty) and often preaching at meetings in the open air. Shifting the thoughts away from the gospels, it also defines an evangelist as any zealous advocate of a cause- and this precisely def  ..more

  Posted at : 10:18 Permalink

Wine with Food – Reality Check
 July 26 2010

Significant time and efforts are being spent to match wine with Indian food by producers and importers, oblivious of the reality that Indians are not really accustomed to drinking wine or generally alcohol with their main meals even as I believe that the campaign must carry on to get consumers to enjoy the synergy that only wine offers for a total gastronomical experience.

At a recent seminar in Santiago in which I made a presentation to the Chilean producers about the Indian market, one producer asked me if I was aware of the ‘Carmenere with Curry’ campaign being launched in UK by ProChile. Replying in the affirmative I said it would be a good match due to slightly higher acidity and spiciness in the wines  ..more

  Posted at : 10:43 Permalink

Pairing Wine with World Cup

 July 16 2010

Pairing  wine with food may be an absolute for some but it also depends upon the time and mood at the table and the basic common sense for selecting the wines suffices, if  you consider my  experience at the World Cup final where we paired four wines from the neighbouring Quintay Winery with food at an Italian Restaurant in Casablanca, Chile while watching the World Cup Final on Sunday.

As our group of 20 (G20) sat down at two tables of Casa Botha, an Italian Restaurant owned by a South African Chef David Botha and his wife in Casablanca, about 70 kms west of Santiago, my Indonesian friend Alex Effendi took out two bottles of Aji, the Chilean hot sauce he had bought in the supermarket the previous night. The delicious but bla  ..more

  Posted at : 09:57 Permalink

Death of a Chilean Wine Statesman
 July 06 2010

Sipping a glass of Montes Alpha M 2006 during my flight to Santiago this morning from San Francisco, my thoughts were full of sadness for the untimely and sad demise last Tuesday of Douglas Murray, a founding partner of Viña Montes and a pioneer and leading proponent of the exports for the contemporary Chilean wine industry, who might soon be reborn somewhere in India.

I am a great admirer of Montes wines, from the quaffable Sauvignon Blanc to the iconic Montes Alpha M I was drinking (a Bordeaux blend with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, which if I remember correctly, was  ..more

  Posted at : 11:25 Permalink

Wine and Drunken Driving
 July 01 2010

It is ironic and tragic that as I wrote about the possible redefinition of moderate drinking by the US federal dietary guidelines for 2011-2015, there was a report about a drunken driving crash in New Jersey where an actress Amy Locane-Bovenizer killed a woman and critically injured her husband while driving under the influence of several glasses of wine. 

While this may not have been the first or even the hundredth known case when an over-drunk driver was involved in a fatal accident, most known cases of DUI (Driving Under Influence) involve  people after a binge drinking session of more than 4or 5 or even 6 glasses of hard liquor. This news did bring out once again, the significant negative factor of excess wine drinking besides causing damage to liver, higher blood pressure, increasing  ..more

  Posted at : 11:30 Permalink

Unshackle Alcohol-Free Wines
 June 25 2010

If the government and the States take Article 47 of the Indian Constitution seriously, the alcohol free wines must be unshackled from the import duty of about 160% and the additional state excise duties which work out as high as import duty in Delhi or even higher in some states, while considering lowering duties on low alcohol wines.

Part IV the Directive Principles of State Policy says that the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health. Unfortunately, the government has not taken cognizance of the medicinal values of wine or else it might have been actively promoting it instead of loading it with insurmountable duties. At the same time, it has not disco   ..more

  Posted at : 11:24 Permalink

Five Ps and Payments from India
 June 21 2010

In the eagerness to deal with India, increasing number of producers are falling into the trap of giving liberal payment terms to importers, some of whom are either taking undue advantage while the others with their cavalier approach import at the risk of the producers many of whom burn their fingers and leave with bitter feelings about India.

A couple of years ago, I was invited as a speaker at a wine show called Fenavin, where importers were sponsored. I was there as a journalist even though I was reluctant to go as it was primarily for importers so that they could have B2B meetings with producers of ..more

  Posted at : 15:50 Permalink

The Irresponsible Wine Journalism
 May 21 2010

A news item reported by the reputed news agency IANS about India’s participation at the London Wine Fair and picked up by online media like Yahoo, had so much erroneous and immature reporting that the producers, wine connoisseurs and serious wine lovers would be at sea whether to laugh or raise their arms with disgust.

“Eight Indian winemakers will compete with international brewers at the three-day London Wine Fair beginning Tuesday,’ roared the news item.

This is not a beer show where international brewers are congregating. What the  ..more

  Posted at : 10:34 Permalink

Shed a Few Tears for the Small Guy
 May 06 2010

In the difficult wine scenario in India, it is not only the customs duties and unreasonable excise duties in states like Delhi, that are irksome and a bottleneck in spreading the wine culture, but the label registration charges and the excise licensing costs are particularly harsh for small importers and  producers, constraining the availability of several good value for money wines too.

Take as an example Delhi- the Indian Capital that aspires to become a world class city before the Commonwealth Games in October. Before making the first sale, the wine importer has to procure an excise license costing Rs.0.5 million (US $11,000) ann  ..more

  Posted at : 11:50 Permalink

Old Wine Brewing in New Bottle
 April 10 2010

As wine consumption in India goes up, one notices an increasing use of ‘Old wine in New Bottle’ to describe an old or existing strategy or plan- repackaged to make it look like a new idea, which does not make any sense, just as the use of ‘brewing’ wine may not is not the correct way of describing the process of wine making.

When is an old wine put in a new bottle to make it better or different? I don’t know- to the best of my knowledge-never. One of the biggest problems that hurt the wine consumption is the problem of oxidation. No matter, how perfect the conditions of transferring a bottle are safeguarded against oxidation; even the slightest of exposure to air is likely to  ..more

  Posted at : 12:42 Permalink

Red Red Wine
 March 29 2010

The recent IWSR Report on Indian wine market has made those on the east of Suez spring up in surprise with figures indicating much higher consumption of Indian and important wines as also suggesting an improbably higher proportion of red wine consumed, ostensibly to clean the arteries clogged because of butter chicken et al.

Red, red wine you make me feel so fine/
You keep me rocking all of the time/
Red, red wine you make me feel so grand/
I feel a million dollars when your just in my hand/

Looks like Indian wine drinkers are singing the song by Bob Marley. The younger      ..more

  Posted at : 11:45 Permalink

Wine Societies and Largesse
 March 22 2010

A recent article in the Economic Times implying that wine clubs are dependent on the largesse of wine merchants and restaurants appears to be inaccurate and irresponsible reporting and I must place a few facts on the table before suggesting that it ought to stick to reporting facts for which it is otherwise well known in India. 

Sitting in Zanotta, the elegant Italian Restaurant at the Leela Gurgaon, chatting with Ambassador Roberto Toscano over Italy’s top meditation wine Amarone, looking ..more

  Posted at : 10:59 Permalink

Welcome to India- the New New World
 February 20 2010

While the news report this week in an Indian business daily talks of the glut in the wine market with more than half the wineries either closed down or without fresh production, a French Report warns France and Europe to buckle up and get ready for competition from the very nations which offer opportunities today, including India.

Welcome to the new New World!!

According to ET, half of Maharashtra’s 58 wineries have either closed down or stopped producing wine due to the glut in the market, with about 2 million liters of wine,    ..more

  Posted at : 10:22 Permalink

What’s in a Name like IGPB
 January 16 2010

After a few years of wine industry speculating about the formation of a National Wine Board to help promote the Indian wine industry, came the confusing and confounding news that an Indian Grape Processing Board was being created with an initial participation by the government and industry to help the wine industry. So what had happened to the National Wine Board?

Even the background papers floating around a couple of years before the news became public knowledge, the corridors in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, also ta..more

  Posted at : 11:55 Permalink

Wine and Wealth, Health and Happiness with a Gaja
 January 06 2010

This year’s New Year Greetings to our readers from delWine were well thought out and apt- wishing you all plenty of wine and wealth, health and happiness in 2010.

Relationship between wine and health is a lot similar to that between wealth and happiness. It is fairly well accepted by now that moderate consumption of wine on a regular basis is good for the heart and most other limbs of the body. (It certainly does not help bad back and I still suffer a stiff back even after two months of moderate wine intake!).

In fact, wine is anti-aging if you read, absorb and accept the findings of the book ..more

  Posted at : 14:50 Permalink

On Wine Clubs and Wine Journalism
 December 21 2009

I was foxed on reading a news item on Saturday in the Central Chronicle which mentioned that ‘the Four Seasons Wines will open a wine club in the city similar to the one in Kolkata and that the company currently has three clubs, each in Bangalore and Delhi and one in Chandigarh’.  

Here is the excerpt from the news item and I quote:

‘Four Seasons Wines Limited (FSWL), a subsidiary of United Spirits Limited, will open a 'wine club' in the city as part of its initiative to promote 'wine-related tourism' across the country. Launching 'Four Season' wines here, FSWL Business Head and Director Abhay Kewad..more

  Posted at : 10:53 Permalink

Six Bottles of DutyFree Wine on Arrival- Part III
 December 02 2009

The initial cynicism and sniggering on my strong plea to the government for allowing 6 bottles of duty free wines on arrival in lieu of 2 bottles of hard liquor has waned and I have been  receiving a lot of positive feedback as many readers see the logic and endorse the concept.

Apparently even in Gujarat which unfortunately is a dry state, one can get a permit with a valid cause. Such permit holders are allowed 2 or 4 units of liquor per month. According to one of our readers from Gujarat, one unit officially translates to one 750 ml bottle of hard liquor, 3 bottles of wine or 10 bottles of beer. If one goes by that logic, we should    ..more

  Posted at : 13:32 Permalink

Saif the Sparkling Star
 November 24 2009

Wine scene seems to be changing for the better in Bollywood with Kareena Kapoor talking appreciatively about red wine last week while her sweetheart Saif Ali Khan is seen holding a glass of Champagne at his party in a recent Ad where most people are drinking wine.

What is really heartening is that he is holding the flute perfectly-from the base and looking confident and suave. He could even be holding it from the stem-and that would have been alright too. Holding the glass correctly is important as it adds pleasure to the wine ..more

  Posted at : 10:32 Permalink

Not every red wine is like Kareena Kapoor
 November 16 2009

When the Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor made a statement in a recent interview that she was like a red wine, which matures with time she was only partially correct because not every red wine is like her, in fact, over 95% are not meant to mature at all.

Kareena Kapoor plays a tormented girlfriend in her latest movie Kurbaan opposite her real life beau Saif Ali Khan, who plays a terrorist. She was referring to her role and that of her boy friend. ‘ I am like red wine, which gets mature with time. As I grow older I will be    ..more

  Posted at : 11:09 Permalink

Allow 6 bottles of DF Wines on Arrival-Part II
 November 12 2009

My blog last week created a lot of controversy with a lot of good advice forthcoming but most people did not see my basic point that the government must separate wine from hard liquor while following its policy on alcohol, without suggesting any liberalisation in this area.

Some of my well-wishers thought I was being critical of the customs department with a few inferring that my name would find mention in the computer and every time I come back from abroad, I would be specially marked for customs inspection. I ought to clarify ..more

  Posted at : 14:40 Permalink

Allow 6 Bottles of DF Wine on Arrival
 November 03 2009

Indian Customs allow two liters of whisky or wine duty-free for tourists on arrival at the international airports whereas duty-free goods worth Rs.25, 000 are allowed otherwise. I believe the limit on duty free wine should be raised to six bottles, for equitable justice.

During my return from Singapore a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to see almost every other passenger carry big boxes of 32-46 inch LCD TVs.  Looking at the rest of the baggage accompanying them, it was a fair assumption that there were some commercial ..more

  Posted at : 14:20 Permalink

The Perfect DelWine Reader Award 2009
 October 23 2009

We have a global readership base of 16,000 which runs probably higher when there is important Breaking News, with a majority sifting through a few articles suitable to their palate. But there is one reader, Vikram Chopra who is magnums ahead of others and deserves our Perfect DelWine Reader Award 2009.

The award is arbitrary-it is not based on the multitudes of SMSs that we are being subjected to these days to select the best restaurant in town-filling the slot machines of the mobile companies with zero jackpot. The award is infrequent-this is the first time we are awarding someone- hopefully we have started a trend! It does not carry any cash award – only a simple recognition which to a true wine appassionato is more than money can   ..more

  Posted at : 10:13 Permalink

EU Pump up the Volume
 October 20 2009

Many importers, foreign producers and consumers ask me everyday whether the excise duties will be rolled back in Delhi. I assure them they will be rolled back before the next fiscal year in April, not because we have been able to make them see the reason, but due to the mounting pressure from EU-our inadvertent allies. .

Predicting such governmental policies is like the stock market except that no one has the insider information- the lawmakers (politicians in this case) are as confused as a laymen. There are bears and bulls of course- there are bears like the wine importers who may eventually tart handling other products to survive or change the commodity and ..more

  Posted at : 10:02 Permalink

Italian Wines & Indian Customs
 October 09 2009

If you think Indian Customs Duties are a major deterrent to expand wine culture in India, I should also tell you that it also has something to do with the Indian Customs that might inhibit some of the most evolved Indians to stay away from an evening out with excellent Italian wines they otherwise love.
Here is a case that might be useful to illustrate my point. There was a dinner organised by the Delhi Wine Club on October 7 at I-Talia, an excellent stand alone restaurant owned by the Park hotel, in DLF Mall in Vasant Kunj, where the club had earlier launched the restaurant when it turned out to be an excellent evening with wines like Barbaresco and Brun ..more

  Posted at : 14:15 Permalink

Treat Wine like Sex (A)
 October 06 2009

A chance look recently at the Kingfisher Bohemia wine ad slogan, ‘Skip the Rituals. Drop the Ceremony’ seemed to me like a modern day sexologist urging you to forget the foreplay and go straight for the carnal knowledge with no post coital rituals either.

This is like telling a gourmet to forget the antipasti and the primo piatto and to just go for the secondo piatto (the main course) and the dolce be damned.In other words, wham, bang, thank you ma’am, or wham-bam-thank you-Sam for women.

From the producers of Kingfisher beer and McDowell whisky, treating wine like McD..more

  Posted at : 11:00 Permalink

Switch from Whisky to Wine
 September 29 2009

The World Heart Day last Sunday was accompanied by a study conducted in 10 cities in India disclosing that 40% of Indians are prone to heart risks with the researchers finding no difference of the risk between drinkers and abstainers.

The latter finding of the study is the surprising part. Most studies across the world during the past twenty years have shown that with moderate consumption of wine or alcohol, the cardiac risks come down substantially, provided two standard units of alcohol are consumed regularly.It is pertinent to remind our readers once more on the occasion..more

  Posted at : 12:26 Permalink

When I was with Robert Parker
 September 22 2009

It was a pleasant surprise but a privilege to share a common platform with Robert Parker and the likes of Jancis Robinson and James Halliday in the July-August Vinexpo Special Edition of La Revue du Vin de France, the first French monthly wine magazine in French language-a highly respected wine publication in France.

I received a mail in late January this year from Denis Saverot, Editor in Chief of the magazine, which Jancis Robinson describes as ‘France’s only serious wine magazine.’ Denis informed me that the magazine would bring out a special issue during Vinexpo to ..more

  Posted at : 14:11 Permalink

Wake up Madhya Pradesh
 September 19 2009

An article in a national daily a few days ago caught my eyes and made me sad yet amused. It appears that the first ever attempt to start a winery in Madhya Pradesh is facing failure because of government’s apathy and hostility as the producers claim.

Apparently, eighteen grape growers of Titri village of Ratlam district, 300 kms from Bhopal, in Madhya Pradesh had decided to venture into wine making on the cooperative model three years ago. But now the wine sale has been brought under government contro..more

  Posted at : 11:55 Permalink

Did Decanter Canter on de Campo News
 September 10 2009

I was startled to read in Decanter last week the news about Pancho Campo MW, President of the Spanish Wine Academy and Director of the prestigious Wine Future Rioja conference in mid-November being the subject of an arrest warrant on the Interpol website. Subhash Arora.

The warrant, issued in Dubai relates to an alleged fraud of €600,000 in that country for which a court case was initiated against him in 2002 by his then business partner. He was due to appear in the court in 2005 but did not attend the court as he had left the cou..more

  Posted at : 16:35 Permalink

Bruised Burgundy at its Best
 August 07 2009

Patricia Corcia, an exporter from Burgundy left a bottle of  Griotte Chambertin 2000 Chezeaux, a Grand Cru red Burgundy for tasting with me few months back which got bruised somewhere along the time in the cellar where I had stuck it in. What happened to it? Read on…

Let me tell you something about the label first. It was produced by Domaine Chezeaux, a producer of Gevrey Chambertin, one of the prestigious villages in Burgundy, which is one of the better known Burgundy villages in India. A Burgundy wine is classified in four..more

  Posted at : 17:41 Permalink

Chicken Samosa and Champagne
 July 29 2009

The reports about US President Barack Obama and the First Lady serving chicken samosas among other mouthwatering dishes and Champagne at a White House reception hosted on Monday for several ambassadors including our new envoy to the US Meera Shankar makes me salivate.

It was splashy affair, held under the chandelier glint of the Grand Foyer, and the music of the Marine String Ensemble which performed a few light jazz songs including ‘Shadow of Your Smile’ and ‘Come Back to Sorrento’, as the Champagne flowed, describe the ..more

  Posted at : 15:41 Permalink

Watch out for the Pellet on your Palate
 July 27 2009

With the growing interest in wine in India the number of wine articles on the net and in the print media has also taken an exponential jump, resulting in the non-wine aficionados mis-spelling some common wine terms that irk me a lot. Subhash Arora

I have often written and expressed my anguish when such writers use the word Wino for wine-lovers or wine connoisseurs rather than describing a destitute cheap wine ..more

  Posted at : 10:00 Permalink

An Indian Wine Student in Australia
 July 20 2009

I met Umesh Saini a couple of years ago when he came to my office looking for guidance to start wine import business. A commerce graduate, he was raw but willing to work with us. Looking at his passion for wine, I recommended him to go to Adelaide, UC Davies in California or Bordeaux to study and gain experience before taking the plunge.

Last week he met me at my house. Apparently he took my advice seriously and got admission in the University of Adelaide last summer for a 3-year degree course in ..more

  Posted at : 18:19 Permalink

Poor Wine Show at the Deck
 July 07 2009

The Deck, a Mediterranean restaurant in Delhi may be great value for money, with diverse and delicious dishes but it has a very disappointing and indifferent wine list and service including glasses as Subhash Arora discovered on a recent visit to the restaurant.

Have you ever been to a Mediterranean restaurant that has no Italian wine on its list? I had an occasion to visit one, which is perhaps typical of many restaurants in town th..more

  Posted at : 14:00 Permalink

Blog WineKnightIndia : Herr Klinger und il Kavalier
 June 08 2009

I have always recognised the role Gaja played in my falling in love with Italian wines and possibly promoting them inadvertently a tad more than the others. I must have done something out of the way made the Italian government considered me worthy of the knighthood and awarding me the title of Cavaliere earlier this year. The man who unwittingly helped me meet Angelo Gaja who became a very good friend after  ..more

  Posted at : 11:18 Permalink

Wine Competitions and Exports
 June 01 2009

Participation in the international wine competitions is not a luxury but a desirable tool to promote Indian wines abroad but, barring Indage Vintners, not many producers have taken a serious look at them, necessitating the government wine bodies to focus and motivate the industry to take part in such competitions.

Ever heard of Moravia? No marks for guessing Alberto Moravia, the great Roman novelist who among other things explored modern sexuality and penned novels like Two ..more

  Posted at : 15:32 Permalink

Wine Tasting as Meditation
 May 14 2009

Yoga is great for meditation but wine tasting can be meditative too when carried out in a proper room setting with certain types of wines in a conducive atmosphere as I found out during tasting of Barbaresco and Roero docg wines in Alba as a part of the Alba Wine Festival organised by Albeisa recently.

It is well established that after tasting 30-40 wines, the motor activity shifts to a lower gear despite the swishing and spitting of wine, as every sip does entail a few drops of the liquid getting into the system with tannins refusing to leave the palate and alcohol do  ..more

  Posted at : 17:16 Permalink

Two Sauvignons for a Banquet
 April 13 2009

I was at a party recently where good quality wine and liquor matched the décor, food and the ambience. Wines were flowing in their usual white, red and the bubbly variants. But Sauvignon was the common denominator both for white and red. 

I find Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif wine at the top of the desirable, uncomplicated choice-dry, crisp, fruity with floral aromas and pleasant taste on the palate-one can drink it by itself or with finger-foods, even with the mutton based shammi kebabs, cheeses (preferably soft and un-seasoned). Other options available could be un-wooded  ..more

  Posted at : 12:33 Permalink

Hibernating April for Excise Department
 April 07 2009

It is that month of the year when the wine and liquor supply chain in Delhi and many other states goes completely dry- at least from the distributor to the retail shops or hotels. Reason: the excise license has to be renewed and till the process is completed, no can move from the excise warehouse.

The excise licensing period coincides with the fiscal year, i.e., April 1-March 31. All fees have to be paid for one full year, even if the application is made for a month or even less. There are the annual license charges of Rs. 5 lakhs which are same whether you import only one label of wine or the whole range of alcoholic beverages from 4 or 40% and beyond. Then each label has to be registered and the registration charges for each label have  ..more

  Posted at : 12:12 Permalink

A Wine Writer's Dilemma
 January 30 2009

Recently, I was approached by some magazines to let them use an article I had written for delWine- Rise and Fall of Wine in India 2008 for their publication. I gave them the authorisation explicitly and implicitly asking them to give due credits to delWine as the original source of publication.

I am occasionally told by friendly magazine publishers that they routinely cut and paste wine articles from delWine. I feel flattered that they find the material worth publishing second-hand.

Similarly, I wrote another article for a publication and was pleasantly surprised when I was informed by many friends that they had read it in another magazine from the sam..more

  Posted at : 11:30 Permalink

Australian Wine Made in India
 January 16 2009

Many wine producers cry foul when they know of  their competitors importing bulk wines and marketing it as Indian wine and making windfall profits, at the same time making selling tougher for them.

Fingers are often pointed towards companies like Indage who own a winery or two in Australia. Last year, the figures released by Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, the government body releasing the export figures had claimed that equivalent of 150,000 cases of Australian wine had landed on the Indian shores. This included about 110,000 liters of bulk wine which was branded and sold some place or the other in India. The question ..more

  Posted at : 13:50 Permalink

Wincarnis Wine- Tonic but not Tannic
 January 09 2009

Wincarnis is a tonic wine that has been sipped for over 120 years for its health benefits much before it was discovered that tannins in red wine are anti-ageing and have anti-oxidants.

I was foxed by a call earlier this week from a church official.

The pastor was not well and had expressed a keen desire to drink some tonic wine. I didn't know where it would be available but I did advise him some tannic wine instead because our stringent excise registration license policy would not make it viable to sell it. Although chemists have the luxury of stocking cough syrups and ayurvedic formulations steeped with drugs, I doubt if wine would be allowed to be sold as a tonic in chemist shops     ..more

  Posted at : 11:25 Permalink

Drink Fine Wine-in Moderation
 January 06 2009

Over the last couple of decades, scores of studies conducted, have consistently indicated that wine is good for heart when taken in moderation. Two units constituted by about 250 mL of wine at 12-12.5% alcohol are considered optimum quantity that should be imbibed on a daily basis.

Several studies in fact have also indicated similar benefits with beer and liquor. However, red wine is generally found to be more beneficial, due to the presence of anti-aging compounds like resveratrol. White wine has also come up on top in a few studies ..more

  Posted at : 10:38 Permalink

Elitists vs. the Wine Elites
 December 31 2008

Delhi Gymkhana and the Delhi Golf Club are the most  exclusive clubs in Delhi whose membership boasts of hundreds of elitists who despite their love for whisky, vodka and rum do condescend to tasting wine on occasions as I discovered during the last few weeks.  

There was a tasting organised by the DGC for its members with the Australian winemaker of a new Indian winery visiting to talk about the wine philosophy of the company over a few glasses of red, white and rose along with crackers etc. at a nominal cost of Rs.100 ..more

  Posted at : 15:49 Permalink

Le Meridien: All That Glitters is Not Gold
 December 23 2008

The newly refurbished Hotel Le Meridien might have added a lot of sheen and gleam to the Delhi property, but it still has to cover miles before it makes the grade as a wine-destination hotel, feels Subhash Arora who had another dejecting wine experience recently.

I don't remember the last time I had a glass of wine at a banquet at this pristine hotel. Many of my NRI friends choose this venue for its glamorous and glittering appearance for weddings. But I have often wondered what fascinates them to select the one-for-one (buy one, get one free) Riviera wines at such events. Perhaps, it gives them the illusion of the French or Italian Riviera!

When I ask my friends the logic of selecting this table wine, they would invariably    ..more

  Posted at : 10:50 Permalink

Kiss My Wine Companion: Oxford Companion to Wine  
 December 17 2008

During the 25 odd years since I have been in love with wine, and constantly reading about it I have collected over a hundred books on the subject including the one lone Italian Wine Guide I wrote with my colleague Sourish. The one book I cherish the most is the Oxford Companion to Wine which is edited by the UK based wine diva, Jancis Robinson.

I was overawed by the mass of contents when I came across it in a library over a decade ago and I still get dumbstruck over the quality and amount of information it has every time I open it for referencing. I was surprised to find a lone copy of the 2006 edition last year at Galgotia's book store in Noida, selling fro Rs.2300,  and clung on to it instantly.        ..more

  Posted at : 17:47 Permalink

From Zero to Hero at a Wine Show  
 December 10 2008

The recently concluded wine show in Delhi makes me wonder whether the passion for wine is really on the rise or there is plain hype. IFE-India gave an opportunity from a novice to the connoisseur to get the basic, intermediate and advance knowledge on wines in 3 days- besides the business opportunities galore.

The importers, hotel industry people and others interested in wines should have been there in hordes-provided they are truly passionate about learning and enjoying wines more, business viewpoint notwithstanding. Surely, all exhibitors hope to do business. But they still pour wines with delight for all and share their winemaking philosophy, pricing, culture and whatever else you might get them to talk about, relating to wine. Whatever be the reasons   ..more

  Posted at : 16:43 Permalink

U.S. Study of Indian Wine Market  
 November 04 2008

Within 10 minutes after we published the Article U.S. report on the Indian Market Released, we got an email asking me that the sender was interested in buying the report.

That shows the dearth of good and reliable information in the market and the expected quality. Incidentally, the report has not been made by us though in all modesty I must admit we helped the authors along in giving valuable inputs. It was generous on the part of Jim Gore who had come with the team, to promise me that whenever the report came out, I would be the first one to get it.

True to his word, he sent it to me before mailing to his contacts and sure enough it was on our website on 4th morning. So we are globally the first ones to publish- not a first   ..more

  Posted at : 15:00 Permalink

Quickie of Wine Tasting  
 August 28 2008

For the last 2-3 days I have been in Paarl, 50 kms from Cape Town where I have been invited for a tasting of South African wines for South African Airways (SAA). There have been a total of over 900 wines tasted over 2.5 days by a panel of 12 judges split in two groups. There are several eminent judges including Dave Hughes, an honourary Cape Wine Master, who has been doing a research on taste and/of  wines for over 15 years, Susanne Wessels, the ' woman winemaker of the year' for last year and many sommeliers, journalists and other tasters.

Years ago when I was a judge at the Vinitaly wine concorso, we tasted about 60 wines every day for 5 days. Most non- tasters did not believe me and thought that would ..more

  Posted at : 10:44 Permalink

Wine is Not Tipple  
 August 16 2008

It is well known that it causes me mental agony when people refer to wine as sharaab. I have written and argued that wine is not sharaab, which historically refers to liquor- distilled spirits that have an alcohol content of over 40%. Traditionally, sharaab also has slight negative connotation not usually known to be associated with wine which is simply a lifestyle, food related product, I believe.

I also abhor people referring wine lover as a wino. This term is used explicitly for an indigent wine-drinking alcoholic. The dictionary also defines it as an informal slang for a destitute person who habitually drinks cheap wine. A wino is a chronic drinker, a person who drinks alcohol to excess habitually. There is not much of a disagreement on the use of this ..more

  Posted at : 11:12 Tasting Notes Permalink

Adios to Prasanjit at Hyatt  
 August 13 2008

Continuing with my dialogue of wine and friendship, I had met Prasanjit Singh, the EAM, practically Deputy General Manager of Hyatt Regency, Delhi 3-4 years ago, with my friend Sourish Bhattacharyya, to fix a wine dinner for the Delhi Wine Club.

Since then he has become a close friend and has supported many events of the Club. After 4-years at Hyatt, I think, he has decided to move on, to handle bigger responsibilities. It was natural that we have a dinner in his farewell, even though he was a bit reluctant.

A beautifully laid out center table for 14, with 4 round tables of 9 in four corners, with one temporary wall, dividing the Ball-room into one half for us, and rolls of black cloth background with three big projectors showing the several wine dinners hosted by or held at Hyatt, the setting was complete for a Bollywood set where the millionaire hero like Amitabh Bacchan would host a private, elegant dinner for 50 special, personal guests. There ...more

  Posted at : 14:20 Tasting Notes Permalink

Wine drinking and driving Speed  
August 05 2008

I had gone to the Polo Lounge at the Hyatt day before yesterday,  to meet a bunch of guys from New York who had been in touch with me and were in Delhi for a couple of days. It had suddenly poured causing a big traffic jam which saw a young under- wine- drinking age girl nick my car and a long delay in arriving at the meeting.

The young man I met was an amazing fellow. The Russian born Gary Vaynerchuk migrated to the US with his father who opened a store in 1983 under the name of Shoppers Discount Liquors in New Jersey. He has helped take the business to new heights and made it a $60 million a year business- half of which is through the on-line store he started. Gary runs the 'Wine Library' and also hosts his own TV show on the web at M ...more

  Posted at : 18:20 Tasting Notes Permalink

Wine and Friendship  
 August 05 2008

Besides the health benefits and lifestyle changes wine also helps build friendships. Therefore, delWine chose the Friendship Day last Sunday to start a wine blog for its readers.

Working 24*7 to bring out delWine twice a week puts me in straitjacket at times and affects my free spirited healthy lifestyle. This has inspired me to initiate a wine blog, initially on this website, where wine lovers can discuss any wine topics, and choose to be anonymous, if they like, using their own handle.

Don't like what is happening in Maharashtra? Surely, you are fed up with the high taxes. A particular retailer sold you a duff bottle and would not give you a replacement? Want to find where in Bangalore you can find a reasonably priced Chablis, Chianti Classico or Cava? You are not happy with screw caps and want to start a discussion with like minded people but do not want others to know who you are? This blog will be the place where we shall help you initiate the discussion.. so long as it is in colloquial and acceptable language and relates to wine and food, the two topics our website is dedicated to. We ho...more

  Posted at : 16:45 Tasting Notes Permalink

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