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Blog: Live and Let Live in the World of Wine

Posted: Wednesday, 31 May 2017 17:21


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Blog: Live and Let Live in the World of Wine

May 31: Internationally renowned cricketer Gautam Gambhir approaching the Delhi High Court yesterday against a resto- bar chain using his name as a tagline, since he is a teetotaller and fears damage to his name, brings to the fore an important issue of strong divide between drinkers and non-drinkers who consider drinking a ‘sin’ and whether one should encourage teetotallers to drink wine for health, lifestyle or other reasons

Sources close to the cricketer have reportedly told TOI that since he is a teetotaller, he is disturbed that a pub is using his name to promote alcohol consumption. His submission is that the tagline... 'by Gautam Gambhir' makes the restaurant seem to be owned by him and this would cause irreparable injury and loss of reputation to him.

Being a very reputed man, his name has attained a distinctive identity and every time this name is taken, it would surely be associated with him, his goodwill and reputation. Curiously, the name of the owner of the chain is also Gautam Gambhir and that would make it tricky even for the court to decide the matter.

The crux of the case could also be what Gambhir has submitted that by using his name in a commercial venture, the public is prone to identify every activity in such a venture with the cricketer. It adds ‘causing him irreparable loss and undue hardship’ but it also implies that the pub owner is making illegitimate money by attracting more customers by so doing.

The case is sub-judice and it is not my intention to share my views but it does show that there are people who associate drinking alcohol or relating with it, sinful or anti-social. The Divide goes beyond the religious sentiments of Muslims as many of my wine friends overseas infer when we discuss wine problems in India.

If it weren’t for my love for wine due to health and lifestyle benefits, I would perhaps still be  a staunch teetotaller (I still call myself Vinotaller as I drink only wine). I am anti-alcohol but not for social reasons-only because excess is bad for health and with excess drinking one may lose control and act irrationally like beating up wife or children in certain strata of society or it may result in deterioration of mental faculties and is an abuse of the body. If someone drinks a lot or less, it is not my problem and does not bother me. There are no judgment al issues -fortunately there are no harmful effects due to passive-drinking (vis-a-vis passive smoking!).

But one must learn to live and let live.

Another corollary follows this dictum- If someone does not drink wine or any alcohol, one ought not to ‘force’ it on them. During my passionate promotion of wine culture, I have never encouraged or forced a teetotaller to start drinking wine because it is healthy. Though I must admit I have influenced numerous people who started drinking wine and many of them now drink even better wine than I choose to. No connoisseur would ever force it on anyone. For one thing, the health effects are not solidly proven though many studies point out basically towards benefits of wine for wealth. And another, wine is enjoyed by people who must be like-minded.

It is also equally important that when someone plans or wants to start with wine and have a glass of wine, it is very important to start under perfect conditions-not for tasting notes but to ensure that the wine puts its best foot forward in its very first sip. Obviously, you won’t want to start with a powerful tannic red but even in white, oaky wines would have to wait. Fresh, off-dry (slightly sweet), crisp, vivacious chilled white wine would be perhaps the best way to start.

I remember many years ago, a French friend was manning a wine stand for a French producer at a wine shoe in Delhi. He had engaged 2 young Delhi girls to work with him in the stand to help him pour wines for the visitors. They were both teetotallers. They were so impressed with the tastings over three days that they expressed a desire to taste some wine towards the end of the exhibition. He said this was a challenging but rewarding task. He mulled over which wines to pour and on the lines I am suggesting, he poured them a white, fruity, aromatic French simple wine- and both were apparently in love with wine instantly. We did not conduct a follow up study but I have come across many such instances where a bad wine is served to a teetotaller or even a wine novice and it pushes him or her away from wine for ever. I suspect there are thousands such cases in India.  

We must live and let such teetotallers live. I hope the high court decision would also be on the similar lines and suggest- Live and Let Live.

Subhash Arora

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