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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, 07 June 2010 11:56

Aperitif – the French way

The Western world is taking the Indian food and wine aficionado very seriously. That was the message that came across last week when Sopexa , the French agency charged with promoting French agricultural products, brought “Aperitif a la Francaise” closer to home at the Eros Shangri-la hotel. Arun Batra writes.

Now most of us know an aperitif to be a pre prandial quaff designed to stimulate the appetite. The French however take a broader view of an aperitif to encompass the festive occasion of people getting together to enjoy a drink and partake of a wide range of assorted nibbles. The aperitif in  France has become more of a social rite with a January 2005 survey by a French market research agency Sofres indicating that 90% of the adult population i France enjoys an aperitif once a week !!

With this in mind Sopexa put together an evening to enable a cross section of socialites, hoteliers and restaurateurs, importers, diplomats and of course the media to discover a variety of French agricultural produce. Well laid out stalls in the banquet hall made it easy for the early visitor to move from one stall to another sampling the wares on display though once the crowds moved in it was shoulder to shoulder.

Given the fact that when asked about wine, generally France comes to most people’s minds –such is the generic awareness of French wines. So it was a bit disappointing that there were just two stalls out of nearly 20 that were promoting wine. Maybe this was reflective of a change in thrust by Sopexa, which has historically promoted French wines heavily, to move more in favour of the mind boggling range of food products that emanate from France. In the words of Mr. Jean Leviol, Head of the French Economic, Finance and Trade Department for India and South Asia “we would like to make the Indian consumer aware of the vast range of food products we have –France is not just a wine producing country”

The stall of Munjral Brothers who import Castel, Virginie and Malesan brands of wines had a throng around it the whole evening as the other stall run by Aspri Spirits had just a token presence. Two wines both from Winery Virginie were worthy of mention and in fact were probably the most in demand during the evening. The Winery Virginie Chardonnay 2006 a typical representationfrom the Languedoc region being   fruity and well rounded on the palate and went very well with most of the cheeses on offer. The Winery Virginie Merlot 2006 was a smooth full bodied wine with persistent finish –an easy drinking everyday wine which would have benefited from some degree of cooling given the location in a 5 star hotel.

On the food front, the most popular counter has an amazing array of cheeses –you name it and it was there –a nice thin slice on your plate. Most of the foodies and expats in fact spent the evening just going thru the cheeses –on their own, with crackers, with olives and the most enjoyable, on the end of a fondue fork. Not all the packaged foods were for sampling and here the Shangri-la stepped in to the rescue of salivating guests with excellent finger foods and an extensive buffet.

The evening rounded off with Sommelier Magandeep Singh leading a raucous bunch of pretty bare footed young women in stomping the juice out of 200 kilos of grapes. Kudos to the Sopexa Delhi team for organizing an enjoyable evening –it was definitely an aperitif the French way!!

Arun Batra is a Delhi based  food and wine enthusiast and a long time member of the Delhi Wine Club



SIROHI Nandita Says:

"Nice article. The company who was hosting the food stall you have written about is Dabon International, for any reader curious enough to wonder where he can pick up all those cheeses . Also, I would say that Munjral and Aspri both had an impressive presence at the show (Aspri also hosted the champagne fountain with their famous Champagne Lombard). Nandita Sirohi-Sopexa"

Posted @ June 10, 2010 15:35


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