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Delhi Wine Club
Down Memory Lane to 3 April 2006

Posted: Thursday, 10 May 2012 13:29

Down Memory Lane to 3 April 2006

SUBHASH ARORA loves to say that his job is all about aish (which is the Urdu expression for ‘the good life’) without cash. It is not entirely true, because Subhash is now India’s most respected voice in the wine world, says Sourish Bhattacharyya who has been the founder-editor of delWine.

Subhash has been able to achieve mainly because of the magisterial reputation that delWine has been able acquire over its 500 editions in the last six year. And no, it’s not been an exercise in cashless aish; it started as a labour of love, but it has also started paying — delWine is now acknowledged as an effective advertising medium that reaches out to exactly the target audience that any wine player can be interested in and as Subhash puts it, ‘the limited number of ads we accept, without affecting our editorial content, help us meet the office expenses.’

Being the founder-editor of delWine, I can take some credit for ensuring that the eNewsletter took off on April 3, 2006 (we deliberately avoided April 1!), with the able assistance of the staff Subhash’s website development company, Sadilak SoftNet. Subhash and I’d been writing news stories, interviews and knowledge-based articles on the Indian Wine Academy website for more than two years before delWine was launched, but we realised soon that our target readership needed to be alerted about our work as and when it appeared.

That’s when I suggested the eNewsletter format — the idea, I must admit, wasn’t original; I had been inspired by the daily eNewsletters of two pioneers in their respective fields: the blogger who goes by the name of Aloo Techie and, which is run by my friend Anurag Batra and is regarded as the country’s foremost information provider on all matters concerning (and of concern to) the media.

Initially, Subhash was sceptical — he felt we would be better off launching a print magazine, but it turned out to be an expensive idea in a fledgling wine market with limited advertising; he was also justifiably apprehensive if just the two of us could pull off the eNewsletter day after day (remember, it was a five-days-a-week affair when it first took off!). But he listened to me and I solved the periodicity problem by making delWine primarily a summary of the main news items of the day relating to the wine, food and hospitality businesses. My understanding was that important people in these businesses don’t have the time to sift through newspapers and Web sites, and would welcome a ‘clippings service’ on their email throughout their working week.

Anyway, delWine took off and how. I remember how we put together our first database of subscribers using the directories of wine and food shows around the world, of industry bodies such as the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, and of prominent social institutions such as Delhi Gymkhana Club, Delhi Golf Club and of course, Delhi Wine Club. Before we knew it, we had a database of over 3,500 subscribers and to our surprise, not a single recipient of delWine unsubscribed us. Wine, hotel and restaurant professionals started adding members to our subscriber base, we got feedback from our friends in the trade and industry, we were sought after whenever a winemaker was in the city, but we knew we had arrived when those of our subscribers who changed their jobs started alerting us about their new email addresses. That was the final bit of evidence we needed that we were being followed, not just browsed. In the sea of information that we live in, that was high praise.

Within six months after delWine’s launch I returned to newspaper journalism. But Subhash, and his exceptionally talented daughter Natasha Vohra, made it less of a ‘clippings service’ and more of a repository of insightful articles on the business of wine and food. Subhash’s peregrinations around the world are reflected in his informative articles that combine facts with comments that show both an intense passion and a deep understanding of the business.

Single-handedly, Subhash has redefined wine journalism without fear or favour, without making any compromises for the sake of advertising.

It’s neither aish, nor no cash for Subhash, but he carries on with his indefatigable energy and a finely honed nose for news. He’s the leader in the business and what makes him special is that he wears the mantle without any pretension.

For the First issue, please click here:

Sourish Bhattacharyya

The writer, who was the founder-editor of delWine, is now the Executive Editor, restaurant critics and food columnist of Mail Today, a daily newspaper of the India Today Group published in Delhi, London and Chandigarh


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