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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Tuesday, November 24 2009. 10:32

Blog: Saif the Sparkling Star

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 drinking- bringing out the aromas and bouquet of wine, an important characteristic of wine. It also keeps wine from getting warm and the glass spotless despite the greasy hands with finger-foods. Contrary to what many wine ignoramuses believe, there is nothing snobbish about holding a glass properly, from the stem. Of course, in any democratic society or with cheap wine, it does not matter how you hold it.

The phenomenon of movie stars drinking wine in a movie or talking knowledgably about  wine off-screen is relatively recent. The ubiquitous VAT 69 had been the darling of heroes who wanted to forget the pain and suffering mostly inflicted by their heroines or dream-girls, sometimes vice versa. Perhaps shooting films in foreign locales in the last few years has changed that. One hopes that there will be more of such ads and films scripted around wine and good times.

Movie stars and sports celebrities are emulated by the Indian masses to no end. Therefore, for the wine culture to spread and permeate to the masses, it would help tremendously if wine took the center stage as the beverage whenever the protagonist is shown relaxing over a drink or at a party scene in the movie. A glass of red wine in a Riedel or Spiegelau Bordeaux glass held correctly can be quite an impressive sight too.

It always surprised me that Indage Vintners went around buying foreign vineyards it could not afford to buy but did not work on the film producers using his MDP sparkling wine (which Saif could well be holding in his glass in the Asian Paints ad!).
A scene shot at their wine bar in Narayangaon or Worli or the Tasting Room at Sula’s Nashik Vineyard could do wonders in popularizing the concept.  A Hollywood movie like Sideways became the centre of discussion throughout the world while the sales of wine with Pinot Noir went up significantly.

A few years ago, Robert Joseph, the well known UK wine journalist and author who is the Chairman of the India Wine Challenge told me a story about a tasting in Mumbai where a well known movie star also joined in. Robert was impressed by his knowledge of wine and the tasting acumen. He told the star that a person of his stature could really promote wine culture and create awareness if he wanted, only to be told that if he drank wine in public, he would be censured by his community.

Every time I think of the story, the images of Dileep Kumar and his beautiful acting of a romantic hero turned alcoholic in Devdas of the fifties come to my mind. I don’t remember anyone chastising Dileep Sahib for drinking alcohol that finally killed him in the movie. There have been hundreds of movies with similar scenes and themes-none with wine though.

What we cannot achieve through hundreds of wine appreciation classes can be achieved by one movie alone as it reaches the target audience throughout the country (not to forget the significant NRI population outside the country).

Although in due course Kareena would enjoy fabulous red wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piemonte, California, Oregon, Australia and New Zealand and even from Maharashtra and Karnataka, one hopes there will be many more Saif Khans looking debonair and enjoying the well-held glass of wine or champagne in more and more TV commercials and the Bollywood movies displaying romance and celebrations.

I’d say Cheers to that and to Saif, the star with the sparkling wine!

Subhash Arora


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