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Delhi Wine Club
Oberoi Tastings Fail to Impress

Posted: Thursday, 31 May 2012 16:04

Oberoi Tastings Fail to Impress

May 31 : An excellent wine tasting programme promoted earlier this year by Oberoi Delhi through ‘Envoy’, the in-house magazine, seems to have waned in the current quarter with dismal attendance even at a premier tasting event of Gaja at fabulously attractive prices that managed to get barely a few people against the target audience of only 12 for each of the 26 events a quarter.

A tasting of 3 wines, with 80-100 mL from a producer/region costing Rs. 1000 AI only per person with some cheese thrown in and conducted in the beautiful wine cellar by an Italian lady Sommelier, as indicated by the Restaurant manager when it was launched, was so impressive that delWine carried a story despite the skimpy information provided by the manager on the phone. It sounded so attractive that it could truly be adopted as a model to promote wine to novices and connoisseurs alike and a great opportunity to learn about wines. It was not unsurprising when a few subscribers of delWine attended some of the tastings and thanked us for the timely information.

The programme for this quarter, beginning on 4th April, started with wines from Mouton Rothschild, coinciding with the visit of the Managing Director of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Mr Hugues Lechanoine and had several promising events every Wednesday and Friday, each set costing the same-Rs.1000 AI.

‘I called up the hotel immediately for a possible booking for 12-14 members of the Delhi Wine Club on either May 23 or 25 for the Gaja tasting,’ says Subhash Arora, founder President of the Delhi Wine Club celebrating its 10th anniversary. ‘I believed it would be a great opportunity to have a select group of members go through a guided tasting of this iconic wine although we have already had an outstanding  dinner with Gaja wines including their signature Barbaresco at Oberoi Gurgaon last year.’ As an educational activity of the Club, the evening might have also been reported in delWine. 

The hotel regretted politely, saying that this would be the most coveted event and it would not be possible to accommodate the request- apparently even a word from the importer who supplied the wines perhaps free or at a highly discounted rates, failed to impress and apparently drew regret from the General Manager. The presence of people you could count on the fingers of a hand, reminds one of a common sight in the yesteryears when the train would be ‘full’ while making a booking but one would find it almost empty on the actual day of travel.

Perhaps, the programme is meant for the elite customers only and they wait till the last minute to fill up the place. Perhaps, it is designed only to please Chairman Bikki Oberoi who is a hands-on person and likes to keep tabs on the happenings and surely receives the first copy of Envoy. It may also be a part of the Events to impress the hotel guests about their interest in wine promotion (in which case why they waste by sending me multiple copies, is not clear)

In an earlier tasting of Kendal Jackson –touted as the best from California wines, there were even less number of people present! One hopes the hotel is not naïve enough to make bookings without taking the full advance-Indians are known to develop last minute diarrhea or are always taking someone in the family to the hospital when no advance has been paid, disrupting the whole event. Delhi Wine Club presumed the whole amount would have to be paid upfront while booking.

Whatever may be the explanation, it appears that an ideal tasting opportunity is being frittered away due to reasons that need to be examined by the management after they analyse the takings at their tastings and perhaps share with our readers through their Comments. Something seems to have gone wrong in excellent planning but poor execution. Meanwhile, an affluent set of Delhi denizens is being deprived of an excellent opportunity to taste interesting and more importantly, diversified wines.

And no matter what the long term commercial interests of the hotels may be, such tastings are an excellent way of wine education and the efforts, if they are genuine and do not seek cheap publicity, are laudable and must be made successful by connoisseurs and novices alike- and delWine is available to disseminate such information, without any charges or obligations.
For our earlier article, click:
We Recommend- Wine Tasting at Oberoi




Ajay Lavakare Says:

Just a quick note on my experience - called Abhimanyu Ranawat who is the F&B manager at Oberoi a couple of times after reading about the opportunity in the previous newsletter. Told him that there were two couples interested in attending one of the tasting events. While he was very forthcoming with information about the event, I never received a single email that he said he was sending me regarding the event (schedule of dates and wines served on those dates), and he made it sound like there were really limited guest spots available. He said he did not have any spots on the two dates that we were interested in going for, because they were fully booked! I did not eventually end up going and I felt like the Oberoi wasn't pushing very hard to get my business either for the event! Ajay

Posted @ June 07, 2012 10:43


Arun Batra Says:

From the above exchange of views, could it be that a stung Oberoi Hotel Group is firing its riposte off Mr Aman Dhall’s shoulder? Mr Dhall’s comments on journalism are interesting and worthy of a re-read : “I think it would be better if journalism would be driven towards educating people, creating cultures rather than advising others on how to run their businesses". Does he mean to say that no journalist can comment on the public activities of a company??? Does he mean to say that if the Oberoi launched a publically announced wine tasting programme, a journalist is not within his rights to pen his views, however laudatory or critical, on the programme?? Going a step further, does this mean a wine critic’s views on a particular wine reflect that he is advising the winemaker how to make his wine or run his business?? Mr Dhall has the reputation of being a smart, savvy and successful operator in the wine industry and I am indeed unconvinced, especially since there was no mention of his company Brindco in Subhash’s articles, that these comments of his are self-generated.

Posted @ June 06, 2012 16:04


Subhash Arora Says:

Dear Aman. Not even the biggest of skeptics can question my passion for wine and dedicate promotion of wine culture in India. In fact, at every international forum I am reguarly recognised for my efforts. However, as a journalist, it is my job of 'telling it like it is.' One deoesn't want to play the role of Pied Piper and take everyone to the sea! If something is not right, it is my duty to bring it out-even when it involves the government and when I tread on dangerous territory. I was the first and perhaps the only journalist in India who acclaimed the Oberoi's Tasting program (read in the main article if not done so) when it was first introduced early this year-and this even when the telephonic response from the hotel manager was lukewarm. I thought it was a fanstastic programme and needed to be made known to wine lovers and I wrote and published the article the same day I received my copy of 'Envoy' (which am sure Oberoi will stop sending now).

I don't know where Brindco comes in. I did not name your company. In fact, if I know the trade, you would have given the wines f.o.c. -or perhaps charged the hotel the excise duties etc only. But as you say, and I agree with you completely-this is the business angle and I or any journalist, have no business to interfere. However, when a programme is not handled properly, it takes courage to admit the failure and learn from the mistakes. This is what Oberoi management ought to be introspecting rather than having you comment. which in any case I appreciate because our readers must hear both sides of the stroy. Thanks for taking time out and sending the comments. Subhash Arora in Vienna

Posted @ June 05, 2012 15:47


Aman Dhall Says:

I think it would be better if journalism would be driven towards educating people, creating cultures rather than advising others on how to run their businesses. It is the discretion of oberoi / brindco (in this case) to drive our individual businesses and the success thereof whether is it 5 or 7 people. They have been several very successful events and the programme has attained great acceptance amongst wine lovers in delhi. Atleast we try, we innovate, we fail and learn to try once again, only to rise again to greater heights. This is our motto. Regards. Aman

Posted @ June 05, 2012 15:20


Subhash Arora Says:

Hi Aman, Thanks for your comments. I think you could call it frustration when I see that in a city like Delhi only 5 people show up for a Gaja Tasting which was a fantastic opportunity for the connoisseurs to learn about, taste and enjoy 3 Gaja wines at never-before, fantastic prices. However, if this is the level of wine awareness, that Gaja cannot attract 12 people, Delhi deserves those cheap 80c wine botles being retailed at Rs.800 and more. BTW,I was at La Piazza for dinner that evening-the restaurant was totally full. So it is not correct to assume that people didnt come because of 45c heat. Subhash Arora

Posted @ June 05, 2012 12:47


Aman Dhall Says:

Dear Subhash, I must say how disappointed i was to see the article on Gaja. I know that you have 30,000 readers and you have become a world renowned journalist, but I understand that article nothing but a pure sense of frustration. Oberoi’s has a very successful programme and considering the month of May with 45c temperature, I must give them kudos for running the programme.I am personally very disappointed in your approach. Regards. Aman Dhall, Brindco

Posted @ June 05, 2012 11:30


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