India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, 22 March 2010 10:59

Blog: Wine Societies and Largesse

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 at the 45 members spread across the restaurant actively debating whether the Amarone 2000 from Allegrini was in fact better than the Amarone 2003 Speri in their stemmed-glasses and whether Gaja Magari 2006 was the best wine of the evening or not, my thoughts kept on drifting back to an article I had chanced through a few days earlier.

‘Instead of large wine societies, dependent on the largesse of wine merchants and restaurants here in India for reasonable rates for their ‘wine evenings’, how about smaller gatherings to share selection brought in by friends? It would be cheaper, more personalized, and all together more enjoyable,’ the ET article had concluded.

I would burst into a smile and mental laughter thinking about it. The author had every right to suggest smaller groups gathering together which many of our members are doing routinely for several years.In all fairness, the article did refer to large wine societies only. Delhi Wine Club is neither large (160 members-just the manageable number for a classy 6 course dinner we were enjoying) nor a society. We are a group of wine lovers who have come together and over the years become an extended family, who enjoy paid dinners with 5-6 wines at least once a month. Some of us find the evenings rather expensive at Rs.1500 or more-tonight would have set most of us back by Rs.2300.

And yet, the house-full sign had tbeen put up before even sending the Menu or the wine list. The restaurant had decided to close it for the public for the evening. True, Aman Dhall, owner of Brindco from whom we had procured wines pitched in with a double magnum (3-liters) of the 2000 Amarone on his own. I had decided to get the Magari 2006 from Gaja’s  Ca’Marcanda winery in Maremma because it was my friend Angelo Gaja’s 70th birthday on March 7 and I wanted to ‘celebrate’ it with the club members.

Were we dependent on the largesse of wine merchant or the restaurant? You've gotta be kidding, Economic Times! We pay for our dinners, of course at special prices. We pay for our wines, of course at special prices- sometimes the wines are even complimentary and we pay the taxes- which at 150% customs duty, 30% excise duty  and 20% VAT are horrendous. My blood pressure shoots up when I think of Rs. 52,000 in customs, excise duties and VAT we had to pay to Brindco at a lunch for 30 members at Hotel Aman last year- the fine wines had been complimentary!

Next morning, I received a call from Hotel Leela. When are we having our next dinner at the Leela, I was asked? There are 2 more restaurants and 6 cuisines waiting to welcome the Delhi Wine Club, I was told. This was- and is the reality, ET!  Wine Clubs like the DWC which has organised 157 dinners in less than 8 years, provide a platform to hotels and importers to showcase their restaurants and wines. No wonder most of them give us the open offers of coming back again, the very next month.

Of course, there are a few exceptions where we don’t go back and the feeling might be mutual. Oberoi is an example where they don’t need a wine club. Yet, the last wine dinner we had -it must be still on the DWC website like all our numbered events, at the Chinese restaurant was so bad –food and service alike that the members don’t ever want to go back. They mistook the special rates to mean poor quality food, second rate service and third rate low ended slow moving wines, and treated the event as largesse. But the hotel which sells entry level wines at promotional price of Rs.875 a glass, would not like to confront the likes of Delhi Wine Club.

I have neither been invited nor attended any event of other wine clubs but I do remember helping the President of Hyderabad Club buy wines in Delhi- he used to carry them by train as they were not easily available there. Recently, I read about the first anniversary event of the wine club in Chennai where the hosting hotel welcomed them back for their next, 5th, 10th and even 25th anniversary! Seemingly at no charge, the spontaneity and the gesture from the hotel cannot be taken as the largesse as anyone with an insight into the hospitality industry would  be well aware of.

In another recent instance, I do know that a wine importer Ace Beverages organised a free lunch with the wine club in Kolkata and a dinner with hournalists, showcasing wines from Argento wines in Argentina. But the mileage they got from the events was so tremendous that they got their money’s worth many times over!

Before finishing the article, I decided the check the wider meaning of largesse in which defines it as 1.a ‘Liberality in bestowing gifts, especially in a lofty or condescending manner, b. Money or gifts bestowed and 2. Generosity of spirit or attitude.

Perhaps the article did not refer to DWC and the small clubs like it. Perhaps the journalist was not thinking of the first part of the definition that made me take notice in the first place and was perhaps referring to the second part-mere generosity. In which case, I would say- Carry on Economic Times! But hit the ball straight and clean and stay on the fairways, don’t go into the rough!  Else, stick to what you do best and your core business of reporting the economic and business news- the best in India.

Subhash Arora



Ashok Says:

Everything that comes free is either supported by a bigwig to get a penetration into the market which is not on quality basis but on spending basis [calling people for free lunch/dinner].

Posted @ March 27, 2010 11:14


Subhash Arora Says:

Harshal. Of course I was invited, I came and wrote an article about it too. But I was not referring to commercial wine clubs. Although Shangri-la is doing a great job, but it is a part of a commercial plan to promote the restaurant and its wines. While we are at it, I did attend a wine club dinner at the Chandigarh Wine Club once. But I was invited as a special guest and presented the wines which I remember they had bought from Delhi. Subhash

Posted @ March 23, 2010 15:00


dkraju Says:

You are dead right. As an importer,we do give wines for promotions but only at concessional rates, all duties paid. No free lunches in Business.

Posted @ March 23, 2010 14:14


Harshal Shah Says:

Subhash, you were invited to and attended the inaugural Shangri-La Wine Club. Please mention this in an addendum. Thanks

Posted @ March 23, 2010 14:10


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.
Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet