Dec 06: The third edition of Indian Wine Day was celebrated by the Lalit Hotels at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore Kolkata, Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur, Chandigarh and London with wine support from Sula, Grover, Fratelli, York, Reveilo and Big Banyan on November 16 and enthusiastic participation by 6 restaurants with many requesting to join in 2020, writes Subhash Arora who is nevertheless disappointed with the lukewarm response by the very industry which Indian Wine Academy and the Lalit Hospitality Group have an ambition to promote
Despite mega problems with the excise department which laid out impractical obstacles to organise the Indian Wine Day dinner on November 16 at the Alfresco Restaurant in the beautiful open and green space outside the 24/7 coffee shop, we managed to organise an excellent dinner with 6 wines at Baluchi Restaurant. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise since those attending felt the service was even better and food was quite hot and delicious, as on the previous occasions.
Wines from Sula, Fratelli and Grover were perfect condiments with the food- very well matched with each dish by Charles Donnadieu, with a bit of help from Arora. The balance part of the evening in Kitty Su night club where many members and guests enjoyed the bubbly with music to dance to in a separate room during the last couple of editions, was a damp squib- again because of the unavailability of the separate room as in the previous years, thanks to the Excise. Even the generous quantity of bubblies for the few guests who joined us failed to enthuse them.
The event was equally successful at most of the other venues. Once again it was a praise-worthy effort on the part of the Lalit group to offer all Indian wines at 50% discount at all their restaurants across India for 2 days on November 16-17 even where they did d not have wine dinners due to practical reasons. London Lalit had a very interesting event with J’Noon red and white wines with AK 47 bubbly and another bubbly from Sula costing £80 for the deluxe Menu. The dinner was priced at Rs. 2500+taxes (£30 appx.) at all the other venues.
Restaurants also participate
Highlight of the Indian Wine Day was that 6 restaurants also joined in the festivities- designed as wine flights; they requested the ‘Day’ was converted to a full week. Therefore 15-21 November were the days chosen to celebrate with wine flights ranging from 3-5 wines and the cost from Rs. 700-1100 with 1-3 appetisers to make an interesting tasting. The intention was also to have the server/sommelier talk about the wines a little bit so that the customer could enjoy the whole experience and be catalysed to drink more Indian wines in the future.
Restaurants that participated were The Wine Company and The Whiskey Samba (Gurgaon), The Wine Rack (Mumbai), Antares (Goa) and the newly opened Kimono Club (Delhi)-all co-owned by the restaurateur Ashish Kapoor who is also a wine connoisseur and in alignment with our concept of promoting Indian wines. He also went to the extent of organizing a similar multi-course wine dinner with Grover wines at The Wine Company on November 20 and requesting Arora to host it. It was a huge success with the guests thanking for a memorable dinner.
Spice Market is dedicated to Indian cuisine and Indian wines. The response of Sumit Gulati, the owner was spontaneous and voila-3 wines with 3 appetisers, at Rs. 700 was the deal offered from 15-21 November!
Durgapur Wine Club was founded on the Indian Wine Day last year. It was appropriate that the club, under the tutelage of Ashok Chandak celebrated the first anniversary and the 3rd Indian Wine Day concurrently with wines from Casablanca/Good Earth adding to the evening in Durgapur. Thank you Team Durgapur and Casablanca.
Lukewarm response by wineries
It was quite disappoint ting to see a rather lukewarm response by the wineries. We had requested the wineries to have special rates/gifts on November 16 (as it happened with restaurants, we would have preferred the full week). Whereas we provided the digital media support, we even expected them to use their channels to publicise the Day for future promotion. Though they did provide the support to the hotel/restaurants but did not actively participate in promoting the Indian Wine Day which is primarily to encourage people to drink more Indian wine and appreciate it. In fact, there is a sub-set that is snobbish enough not to touch Indian wines even though the quality at the prices we get imported wines due to high taxes, they re not competitive with super premium Indian quality wines.
It was interesting however, to see two wineries Soma Vineyard in Nashik and Big Banyan Bangalore who celebrated by giving special offers on winery visits, purchase of wines and food at the restaurant in Soma Nashik.
One hopes that the wineries take keener and direct interest in the promotion of Indian Wine Day which is neither in the commercial interest of Indian Wine Academy nor the Lalit Group of Hotels which in fact, spends money from its pocket every year. It is now directly in the interest of the Indian wine industry. This will also help in the improvement of the quality. We do not promote wines that we feel one cannot proudly serve in the house or the restaurant.
Arora concedes that this is a slow process and has got a lot of kudos from across India and the world. Many other cities have shown interest in having the dinner and other related activities next year. Indian Wine Academy thanks all those who participated with full gusto and hopes their names get connected with the promotion of Indian wines globally.
Next Indian Wine Day is again on 16 November, 2020. In fact, the day evolved-not by accident but design. The first event was on November 16, the 3rd Thursday of November- the same day as the Beaujolais Day celebrated globally by a small appellation South of Burgundy. The following year it was a Friday and so it suited us to have it on Friday the 16th. Since this year was going to be a Saturday, and most wineries and restaurants had suggested November as a good month for promotion, we decided to freeze the day and now it is imperative that the day is celebrated across the country and the world. There are many countries, regions and even the grape varieties on which the special Days are fixed- in fact November 16 is also a National Amfora Day too!!
On behalf of Indian Wine Academy I wish to thank the Lalit group, Ashish Kapur and Sumit and Chiquita Gulati
The Wine Company Menu on November 20
Indian Wine Day Menu at Baluchi, Delhi
Menu @Baluchi, Delhi
If you Like this article please click on the Like button