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Delhi Wine Club
Peruvian Gastronomic Festival with French wines

Posted: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 14:41


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Peruvian Gastronomic Festival with French wines

Dec 22: The Peruvian Gastronomic Festival organised by the Embassy of Peru at Hyatt last Thursday virtually took the Indian guests to Peru where they really relished the local cuisine and the ‘national’ drink Pisco Sour though relying on the French wines for support, writes Subhash Arora who had helped the embassy organise a Peruvian Wine Evening 12 years ago and had advised the Ambassador to focus only on Pisco as there could be an excellent demand for it as an active ingredient for cocktails in India

Click For Large ViewAs I entered the Living Room at the Hyatt Regency in the middle of an ongoing speech (it’s getting to be more and more difficult reaching anywhere in time thanks to the traffic and 7 pm is rather early to start an evening) , it was as if I had entered a grand party in Peru. Everywhere the eyes saw there were Peruvians (at least I could hear their national language) in sight. I didn’t know there were so many of their citizens living in Delhi! I am sure many of them live in the NCR region or it was a Latin Get-Together.

The food counters on my left displayed rather appetising looking dishes that appeared to be from different parts of India but as I saw the Peruvian Chef explain the dishes to the Ambassador, H.E. Jose Betancourt, I knew it would be a delightful Peruvian experience just as I reminisced and thoughts went to a similar event I had helped the Embassy organise 12 years ago, almost to the day-on 15th December, 2003.  

Click For Large ViewVictor Muñoz, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Peru was a member of the Delhi Wine Club (DWC). He knew of the club policy of promoting wines from different parts of world and requested me to meet the then Ambassador, His Excellency, Mr. Benjamin Ruiz in order to help them promote Peruvian wines by showcasing them at a wine club event.

I had not heard much about the Peruvian wines which were overshadowed by Chilean wines (the Argentine wines had not made their significant presence then, except Tacama as an international brand). I found Ambassador Ruiz to be nafees (fine gentleman, as we say). I agreed to help the embassy host an evening to showcase wines from Peru but suggested his residence as venue for tactical reasons.

He made a special request to allow tasting of Pisco, their ‘national’ drink that can make several cocktails. At DWC we serve only wines and even grappa, brandy including Cognac are not allowed. But we made an exception for the evening as an Embassy was hosting it and allowed the wine-distilled product. The evening had turned out to be a roaring success, especially because of Pisco- based cocktails which our members told me, they loved. The wines were not greatly appreciated. Tacama wines were present, making the tasting very interesting. But I had found the wines too tannic and tight and devoid of fruit. So I recommended to the Ambassador it was too early to promote Peruvian wines, especially since Chile was too strong in its increasing presence but I could help him in promoting Pisco through my contacts.

Click For Large ViewPeru is a natural wine producer as it borders Chile to its South. Its coastline touches Pacific Ocean just like in Chile and the Central coast in California. It is the 5th largest wine producer in Latin America, though only one tenth the size of Chile in wine growing area.

Historically, Peru has been known to grow grapes since Chile started growing them. In 1563, when Spain conquered Chile and brought shiploads of vines from Spain and France, a sizeable amount was also shipped from Valparaiso, Chile to Lima. Unlike Chile, Peru had serious problems when Phylloxera hit Bordeaux in 1860s. Also detrimental was a decree by the military government later in the 1960s taking land from the feudal landowners and distributing it to small farmers, which practically ruined the wine industry.

I took a quick look at the bar counter which had a lot of activity at the Pisco section where one waiter was constantly pouring jugs of Pisco Sour into the glasses. Next to it was the wine counter where I had a rather amusing experience which would make the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of Bordeaux smile in the grave. Expecting to drink wines from Peru, perhaps Tacama, I asked the waiter which wines they were serving.

Wines from Philippine  ??!!

Click For Large ViewHe said "Sir, we have only wines from Philippine." But don't you have wine from Peru? And since when did Philippines start marking wines? "Sir, only Pisco is from Peru. Both the red and white wines are from Philippines." I was scratching my head in horror as another waiter piped in and said, “sorry sir, wines are from France" just as my eyes went behind the counter and I could spot Mouton Cadet (red) and Cadet d'Oc from Baron de Rothschild!! There was a Merlot from the Renaissance too.

This was a bit of surprise. Although I could make do with either of the Cadets though I stuck to Mouton, I would have thought that since it was a Peruvian Gastronomic Festival, they would have wines from Peru so the potential importers and hospitality people could try it. Then I realised again that I did not find either any importers or the hospitality personnel.

Click For Large ViewTherefore, it was obvious that the evening was not to promote the wine or even perhaps Pisco but to showcase the Peruvian cuisine which was a complete success. Even though I thought that they could have preferred the Latin wines from Chile or Argentina but it was a delightful experience all the same, with Hyatt chipping in with their known excellent service and the Hotel chefs who are quick on the uptake, did an excellent job assisting the visiting Chef.

The Peruvian Festival has been very timely. With changing trends in the city and the Indians ready to embrace international cuisines, the Peruvian cuisine has a definite place on the gastronomic canvass. Park Hyatt Goa has already started serving Ceviche-based Peruvian food at the Palms Restaurant. A local restaurant Townhouse is running a promotion of the same . It’s perhaps the right time for their cuisine to enter Delhi. It will also help promote Pisco and even Peruvian wines may find a niche market as well. 

One hopes it is repeated in future if it was with some business in mind and not a Christmas party for the Peruvians and other Latin Americans.

For the Article about the previous event with the Delhi Wine Club in 2003 (when there was no delWine) please visit

Peruvian Wines And PISCO Tasting

Subhash Arora

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