Dec 15: For the first time in the modern Indian wine history, Indian Wine Day (IWD) was celebrated pan India and London on November 16, 2017 when premium and super premium Indian wines were paired with Baluchi Restaurant cuisine at Lalit Hotels in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur AND London, all on the same date and the Menu where each dish was paired with wine from a different producer, writes Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy which joined hands with The Lalit Hospitality Group to organise the IWD
The concept was a brain-child of Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy, who along with Lalit’s French Corporate Sommelier Charles Donnadieu, is a keen promoter of Indian wines with Indian cuisine for an exclusive Indian gastronomical experience. The aim was also to increase acceptance of the consistently improving quality of Indian wines and encourage Indian producers and hospitality industry to come together on a common platform to make it an annual feature to emphasize wine as a food product, sowing the seeds for a massive one-day promotion in future.
With the active support of the Corporate F & B Manager Mr. Ravindra Kumar and the infectious enthusiasm of Mr. Keshav Suri, Executive Director of the Lalit group, the project Indian Wine Day was launched in July 2017-initially for Delhi but later extended gradually to Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Jaipur AND London.
To highlight the importance of such a day for the Indian wine industry in the long run, we selected November 16, a rather inconvenient Thursday- to bring home the importance of an Indian Wine Day which ought to be observed with fervour every year. Beaujolais is a very small AOC Appellation in Rhone, bordering Burgundy and similar in wine style, using Gamay grape-often known as the cousin of Pinot Noir. It is a cluster of a few villages that produce red wine. It celebrates ‘Beaujolais Nouveau Day’ globally every third Thursday of November when the new vintage is released as the clock strikes midnight, at 00.01 am. It is transported and uncorked in various parts of the world including India in the evening with a great enthusiasm.
Primarily a successful marketing ploy, it helps consumers spend an evening with a lot of fun and frolic; even Delhi (and also Mumbai and Bangalore) has had a history of this celebration in the past. Why not bring the concept in on a globally popular day was our reasoning! And thus was selected the date for the maiden Indian Wine Day! We knew it would a more convenient date from next year onwards, to be selected after feedback from producers and other stakeholders including consumers.
Baluchi Restaurants at the Lalit are known for excellent Indian cuisine. After several tastings and pairings, we decided to pair the same dishes with select Indian wines from Sula, Grover, Fratelli, York, Charosa, Chandon and KRSMA at all the venues. The wine lists had to be tweaked a little to match the availability in each city.
Dinners were majestic sit-downs at all venues in Baluchi/ alfresco where possible-including Delhi and Bangalore. Desserts and sparkling wines were served in Kitty Su/ KittyKo or the equivalent night clubs where several other wines were offered by producers for tasting, sponsored by the producers including Big Banyan and SDU in Bangalore. Plenty of music and dancing put the guests in the celebratory mood.
Response from the producers was spontaneous and excellent with all of them pitching in towards the cause which will hopefully catch more momentum in future. Most producers, their winemakers or representatives were present at most venues to showcase their wines. Kapil Grover (Grover Zampa Vineyards), Craig Wedge (Fratelli), Ravi Gurnani (York) and Clive Castelino (Charosa) were present in Mumbai. Robert Joseph representing Sula came with Cecilia Oldne (Sula) in Mumbai while their Chief Winemaker Karan Vasani flew in to Delhi for the evening. One of the most well-known lifestyle bloggers, Miss Malini also graced the Mumbai event.
In Bangalore, the Indian Wine Day started at 11 AM at Hotel Lalit Ashok where wines from 8 producers were uncorked for sampling till 7 pm. Enoteca by Madhuloka and Karnataka Wine Board powered the tasting to create awareness about premium Indian wines and their improved quality. There were also activities like grape stomping. The event was open to public and there was no entree fee or charges for tasting-a unique event in that sense.
In Delhi, the event was attended by a full house of around 85 people. Earlier worries of the worst smog of the year in the evening did give a scare, followed by the expected rain playing a spoil sport. But a few showers earlier in the day, mellowed down the intensity of smog and the green surrounds of the Alfresco Restaurant and arrangements by the hotel made the surroundings surrealistic. Evening started, like at all the other venues, with champagne tower made from Sula Tropicale Brut with Karan Vasani and his Sula team given the honour of filling the saucers, and him talking about the Brut briefly.
One of the highlights was a Direct Live Video streaming of activities in Delhi and video connectivity of Delhi with Mumbai and Bangalore. The other was serving of desserts, accompanied by music in an exclusive lounge at Kitty Su, where the DJ played music from the earlier generation, making several people dance.
Indian Wine Day is a joint initiative of The Lalit and Indian Wine Academy and will be extended to all the 13 properties. Dinners were partnered with the Delhi Wine Club in Delhi and Mumbai, which was spearheaded by Natasha Vohra, a member of the Club and Assitant Editor of delWine, which also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Delhi Wine Club at this event. Bangalore Wine Club in Bangalore and Chandigarh Wine Club in Chandigarh drove the evening. The event was also supportive of ‘Make in India’ concept by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and highlighted the importance of Indian wines in the future development of our economy.
50% Discounted Wines
To make the Indian Wine Day (IWD) Celebrations more exciting and to further the cause of Indian wines, The Lalit group had announced 50% discount on all Indian wines ordered at any of their restaurants in all their 13 properties in India and London for 3 days; on 16-18 November, subject to the availability of stocks.
Let us raise our glasses to the Indian wines and Indian Wine Day and say Cheers, or better still – Jai Ho- an initiative of the Indian Wine Academy to popularise a universally acceptable word, used so commonly otherwise.
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