Aug 15: Although a little late to order Indian wines for the Independence Day Celebrations, officially a Dry Day, it is encouraging to see an importer like the Mumbai-based The Wine Park, having a Retail License, selling beyond its own imports and adding Indian wines too- all under one roof, writes Subhash Arora who feels the convenience of ordering a wider range online and having them home-delivered, is a positive step that should become a permanent feature in Maharashtra and states like Delhi ought to adopt it for the convenience it offers, especially for women
Tough times call for tough and at times, desperate measures. Stung by the Covid Pandemic, The Wine Park has been doing just that, and adjusting quickly to the local policies. Not only has the importer added Indian wine selection to its portfolio, it has also started selling wines online from other importers like Aspri, Vbev, Vinopolis and is not averse to dealing with Brindco either. ‘We would like to promote the industry and all the importers’. What he means is since he has the retail license costing annually over Rs. 3.5 lakhs, why not sell labels from competitors besides his own labels in the retail space which is his warehouse, and have the additional sales contribute to the overheads which have broken the back of producers and importers alike.
Maharashtra had allowed home deliveries in May and banned retail sales over the counter-even Supreme Court had recently upheld the decision of BMC, proclaiming wines and spirits as non-essential products. But home delivery is allowed. Simply go to the website www.thewinepark.com where you see the tagline ‘Buy Wines Online’ and you know you have come to the right place. Provided the order is over Rs. 1500, a free home delivery is assured within Mumbai (most pin-codes). The first-time customers are even offered an incentive of Rs. 1000.
The website which went up in June after the new policy came into effect, lists around 125 wine labels imported by The Wine Park and around 40+ by the competitors. Vishal claims that the website is dynamic and if certain wine labels have an inventory of less than 24, it so indicates. The number is on the increase as he negotiates with more importers and adds more labels. ‘My main requirement is I should like to drink the wine myself.’ Known for a decent premium selection, one can be reasonably sure to get a good quality and variety. The website is very educative about wines and has interesting bits of information including Tasting Notes, Vivino, Robert Parker and Wine Spectator Ratings where available. No wine is promoted more than the other.
This is where the Indian wines come in the picture. There are a total of 12 Indian labels from Chandon, Sula, Grover, Fratelli, York, and including the very decently priced Rs. 750 each red and white wines of Daily Dose, a label promoted by Vishal Kadakia. One can pick up wines priced as low as Rs. 695 for Sula Chenin Blanc to the high ended Fratelli Sette at Rs. 2000, with Grover’s La Reserve holding the middle ground at Rs. 1150. Both the variants of Chandon Brut and Rose Brut complete the style profile. Prices are the same as everywhere else in Mumbai ‘as we are not allowed to give any discounts on MRP according to the Retailers Association of Mumbai.’
He has a wide range of his own imports ranging from as low as Rs. 1555 each for the Chilean Apaltagua Gran Verano Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to the MAN series from South Africa at Rs. 1995 and as high as Dom Perignon 2008 at Rs. 24, 553.
Each category can be selected by Wine type, Style, Country/Region, Grapes, Brand and even the type of closure. Discover Wines, New Wines and Weekly Specials (I could not find anything Special, unfortunately) are a few of the special sections that are informative and helpful to novices and connoisseurs alike. But be warned there are no cheap wines in the List. One can also pick up decent German Schott Zwiesel Air Series glasses for red and white wine at less than Rs. 1000 each and even a decanter as a starter kit.
So why would someone buy from Wine Park or what is their USP? ‘The biggest advantage is that we curate our wines. Only if I personally like the wine, will we stock it’, says Vishal who is a good taster. ‘If a producer or importer asks me to keep all or a majority of his labels, we cannot oblige,’ he adds. Of course, he is constantly building his own brand to increase the market reach.
Ordering is as simple as ordering online-select the wine and make the payment with a card. Wines will be delivered as soon as possible though their own delivery system. It is a workable and desirable system during the Covid times with full attention to contactless delivery and social distancing. One hopes it evolves into a permanent system.
Delhi needs it badly too but the wine-regressive government is not expected to be in a hurry to react positively to such developments. We need visionary leadership for that. Unfortunately, AAP government does not have an enviable record thus far in this respect even though the government has allowed free bus travel for women in Delhi. One seriously hopes they will take this leaf from Maharashtra’s book.
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