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Champagne-The Tipping Point in Mumbai

Posted: Tuesday, 28 September 2010 17:28

Feature: Champagne-The Tipping Point in Mumbai

The Indian economic bubble may have burst but a bubble of a different kind has evolved over the past year or two with Champagne that was considered a celebratory drink earlier,  becoming relatively more easily available, and very affordable  at Sunday lunches in several hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, writes our Mumbai Correspondent Maloo Natarajan.

Ten years ago, the response from my friends in Singapore on how the weekend was spent would result in a detailed explanation of the various Champagne brunches available and the benefits of going to one every weekend. A quick round of golf followed by a networking session over a brunch, heading out with the family for great food and drinks, getting over a Saturday hang over…there was no specific reason to head out to the nearest brunch.

This concept that was unheard off till recently has caught on like wide fire in our country and particularly in Delhi and Mumbai. We are drinking more Champagne than ever and we don’t even seem to need the excuse of a special occasion to crack open a bottle.

Taking advantage of this situation, many hotels in Mumbai have initiated special champagne brunches on weekends. These brunches seem to be well attended despite the fact that the hotels don’t seem to spend much effort to promote them.

The "Champagne Hour" introduced by the Four Seasons Mumbai at their rooftop open-air lounge bar, Aer, offers Moët Chandon for INR600 a flute during a stipulated time in the evening. Vishal Sanadhya of Four Seasons informs delWine. ‘The primary objective of this concept is to encourage more people to enjoy the drink and is not looked at as a business proposition,’ adding with confidence, ‘and I don’t believe that this is a passing fad but is here to stay.’

When it comes to pairing of Indian cuisine with Champagne, the point to note is that over spiced foods don’t go well with the delicate flavours of champagne. Too much pepper, raw, yellow or red onions and garlic need to be kept away - Indian connoisseurs of champagne will have a lot to froth about.

‘To the Indian drinking repertoire, it’s a new drink and the concept of a brunch is a great way of encouraging people to experience it without burning a hole in the pocket’ says Karan Jain of Globus Wines.

The minimum retail price in Mumbai for champagne is around INR 5,000 and if a champagne brunch at the Felix, The Oberoi costs about approx INR 3500, from a financial perspective, it is indeed a great value for money.

In the words of Madam Lilly Bollinger:
"I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad.
 Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone.
When I have company I consider it obligatory.
I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am.
Otherwise, I never touch it unless I'm thirsty."

Some interesting brunches Mumbai

Sparkling Sundays at Fenix, The Oberoi, Mumbai

Champagne. Conversation. Camaraderie
Sundays - 12:30 to 16:00 p.m. (INR 3500 approx)
Enjoy a free flow of premium Bollinger champagne at its Fenix Champagne Brunch….the first in the city to bring home the prestigious Champagne, Fenix is the place where guests can raise a toast to an unlimited pour of Bollinger or Bollinger Rosé, every Sunday.

Guests can enjoy culinary delicacies from around the world, with an extensive menu. The main course includes New Zealand lamb cutlets with horseradish mash, arugula, and green peppercorn sauce; Wasabi-crusted Cochin sea bass with grilled aubergine, pok choy and ponzu sauce; and the Chef’s Signature Kebab Platter, accompanied by dal and Indian specialty bread and an interesting variety of sushi and sashimi delights.

A free flow of premium Bollinger champagne is available, with a range of innovative cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and freshly-squeezed juices. Guests enjoy the cheery, sun-splashed, interiors of the restaurant, the eye-catching red piano in the main lobby, and the soothing strains of live music performed by Fenix’s own harpist.

Sunday brunch at Vista, Taj Lands End
Sundays - 13:00 to16:00 (approx INR 4500)
With a choice of Moet Chandon and Dom Perignon, the spread includes appealing salad bar with a selection of international cold cuts & artesian cheeses along with Chef’s specially crafted choices of bread, a live offering of pizzas, pastas, grills & foie gras is prepared on site, & the buffet further taking you to the gourmet safari of the world. This buffet offering comprises food cuisines from continental Europe, Thailand, Japan, China, Italy and lot more.

Cocktail Brunch at Lotus Café, JW Marriott
(approx INR 4600)
Includes a free flow of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne and cocktails

Although wine lovers of Delhi and Mumbai are privileged enough to have the opportunity of drinking a bottle or more at a sitting, thus paying hardly $ 20-25 a bottle, there is going to be sunshine also in Bangalore. As Sanjay Menon, owner of Sansula tells delWine, ITC Gardenia in Bangalore has started serving Pol Roger champagne. Piper Heidsieck, the new kid on the block has plans to increase its presence in the market through such brunches. With many players keenly planning to join, would the leader Moet and Chandon take it lying down? More good times seem to be in the air.

Maloo Natarajan

       

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