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Delhi Wine Club
DGC: Golfers Get a Taste of Foreign Wines

Posted: Monday, 10 September 2012 14:07

DGC: Golfers Get a Taste of Foreign Wines

September 10 : Members of the Delhi Golf Club, one of the most elitist golf clubs in India, enjoyed a guided tasting of imported wines for the first time when Subhash Arora, President of Indian Wine Academy and a long-time member of the club, conducted a wine appreciation evening in the main bar where a full house of 90 members enjoyed 5 wines of Chile, Spain and Burgundy from Torres and Joseph Drouhin being imported by Prestige Wines and Spirits.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

The members of the elite club where membership for a golfer could come in more than 30 years (unless you are a senior government employee in which case you get preferential treatment) may be known for their love for golf and the good life but wine is not prominent in most members' routine. With the average age of a member being over 50, they are mostly chaps of the old block, with whisky, vodkas and beer as their only choice after a game of golf or for an evening sojourn with friends. Wine has been a secondary part of the menu, service and choice, though there has been a recent thawing in the outlook with younger members frequenting the bar and the pub and being seen sipping a glass of wine, even if it is not in a proper wine glass.

All this is slowly changing though. Several Indian wineries have been organising wine training sessions and appreciation evenings. But it was the first time that the club requested Subhash Arora to organise an evening with imported wines, a couple of which could possibly find a place in the wine list. Always enthusiastic about such promotions, Arora roped in Prestige Wines to be the wine sponsors of the evening. A Gautam Thapar-Miguel Torres group-John Grant (Chairman of the single malt producer Glenfarclas) JV that now also includes Joseph Drouhin, the largest family producer of wines in Burgundy (the foreign trio was in Delhi a couple of months ago when I had dinner with them) , Prestige has become quite pro-active with an implicit declaration of reaching towards the top spot as an importer (and perhaps one day entering the domestic wine business as they have done in China).

Wines were selected by Arora keeping in view their daily drinking value-for-money proposition in case the club decided to add a couple of them in their wine portfolio. Miguel Torres Hemisferio Sauvignon Blanc (Torres Chile), Petit Chablis and Laforet Bourgogne red from Joseph Drouhin and Torres Mas Rabell and Torres Corona (100% Tempranillo) were chosen. The club also organised a variety of cheeses from Chaplin Cheese (with factory in Garh Mukteshwar and offices throughout India with a retail outlet in Lado Sarai in Delhi) to complete the 'Cheese and Wine Evening'. Arora added cocktail samosas, both vegetarian and keema versions, to this menu in order to promote the concept that wine was truly a food supplement, and could enhance the taste of even the mundane fast-food snack.

To keep the session interactive, each member was given a list of wines (and a separate one for cheese) with four columns - outstanding, very good, good and average. Members were asked to rate each wine after explaining the basic principles of wine tasting (excluding the spitting - each member had coughed up Rs.250 to get a seat in the tasting session!). Colour, aromas, flavour and after-taste and general impression and various other aspects of wine drinking were continuously touched upon as the evening progressed. There was a buzz in the room and the noise reached a healthy level with members discussing wines with other members at the same table and across. Generally there was a bonhomie that should be a hallmark of a fun wine evening.

By the end of the evening, members had opened up enough to discuss and debate but they were generally clear about the difference between Chardonnay and Chablis and various aspects of storage and serving wine temperatures etc. Surprisingly about 60% preferred the quaffable and simple though clean Sauvignon Blanc to the more complex and medium bodied Petit Chablis with a relatively long end. What was also surprising was that hardly any members claimed drinking wine for health reasons - generally believed to be true in case of older people drinking wine in India-especially reds. Interestingly, only one member admitted to not drinking wine; she is a teetotaler.

Torres Mas Rabell was rated by a majority as good to very good. This restaurant wine which had been crafted for the private restaurant of the Torres', being run at a farm near their winery in Villa Franca in Penedes and is generally available only in restaurants in India, would be a good contender for a place in the club wine list. The Carignan-Grenache blend has high presence of spicy notes that add personality to the dry and fruity wine. The Tempranillo based Torres Corona which has been in the company's portfolio for over a century with the most grown red grape in Spain, created a sharp divide with several members loving it but an almost equal number disliking it as they found the flavour unattractive for their palate. They perhaps need to evolve by tasting more such wines and with indigenous grape varieties that are rampant and USPs of several wines in the old world countries like Italy, France, Spain, Greece and of course East European and Baltic wine producing nations.

The criterion suggested by Arora to members for rating was simple and representative of a novice or an expert consumer-if you won't like to drink a wine, it's average. If you are happy with a glass at a party or at the club, it is good. But if you want to have another glass soon after finishing the first glass, it should be rated Very Good. But if the bottle beckons you to ask for another of the same label to be opened it's truly a 'Gold' wine and should get an outstanding rating. Just as in most international wine competitions where I have been judging regularly for the last several years, there were not too many to stick their necks out and rate the wines outstanding.

Nevertheless, it added a lot to the fun of the evening and has left the F & B committee with a lot of work in deciphering tastes and preferences of the members who gave their judgment based on their personal choice.

The idea to push for wine tasting along with other beverage tastings has been that of Raj Khanna, a fellow IIT engineer, who heads the F & B Committee at the club. After convincing them to buy decent stemware for wines, he is keen to add some foreign wines to reinforce the wine section of the menu which has been quite lackluster so far. However, it is a compliment to the club that prices of Indian wines have been the lowest in the country, at times even slightly lower than the retail prices. However, wine service has not kept up and events like this would hopefully help bring up the quality and range of wines.

Congratulations to the club for progressive thinking on wines as a part of the gastronomical experience. Members would do well to give their honest suggestions as they order more frequently a glass or two of wine in future.

Subhash Arora



Raj khanna Says:

A lovely evening enjoyed by all & I have been told so by so many who were there that evening.Thank you for your choice of wines,the knowledge you shared & time given for this function.I do hope this tradition will continue in the coming years too so that the wine culture improves in our club.Based on the selection by members I will discuss with you once we have the prices ,to see which all wines can be included in our menu. I am arranging to forward this article to all those who attended. I am sure they will appreciate it. I am also marking to the right person for including in next issue of Green Scene. With regard. Raj khanna

Posted @ September 11, 2012 10:17


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