If tannins, acids and mouthfeel are things you obsess over, there’s good news for you. The Wine Society of India is launching Wine Warehouse—a wine store that will stock a rare hand-picked collection of the world’s finest wines. The Wine Society’s director David Banford tells us about the store and why you need a wine chiller even if you’re Shah Rukh Khan. Edited excerpts:
What is the idea behind Wine Warehouse?
It’s a facility to allow everybody who has an interest in wine to access exceptional-quality wine which has been stored in temperature-controlled conditions all the way from the producer to the end consumer. We consider this unique for India because the climate is so hot here (and) there are many breaks in the chain, which result in wine being damaged by heat. There are a few temperature-controlled wine stores in India, but these aren’t enough. Besides, I don’t think there are any stores in India that have a hand-picked selection of wine.
The wines, priced below MRP, range between Rs350 and Rs5,000.
Tell us about the store.
The store isn’t too big; it’s about 800 sq. ft, and with about 50 wine bottles on display. These come from all over the world, including India, because India is now producing wine of world-class stature. They’ve all been tasted by a board of wine advisers who are out to make the best wine available to connoisseurs at modest prices, unlike most wine shops that sell what their distributors give them. We come from a different cultural background and we want to pass on the joy that is wine to Mumbai, and hopefully to people in the other cities of India.
What are the types of wine that will be available?
A lot of the wines are exclusive selections for the Wine Society of India. There are one or two labels that you will find elsewhere as well. Our latest selection features wine from Spain and Portugal. Riojas from Cvne Vineyards in Spain, Vinho Verde from Portugal White Rioja (from Spain) made from the Viura grape, and Indian Rosae wines. We also have Chateau de Pez Saint from the South of France. Each wine is chosen to be top of class for the region it represents.
How expensive are they?
All the wines are well below the maximum retail prices, anything between Rs350 and Rs5,000. If you are a member of the Wine Society, you get a 5% discount and we’ll arrange for home delivery too. But the store is open to all. We hope that people who have a general interest in wine will find their way to the store.
What’s the wine market like in India?
It’s very embryonic because this is a culture of chotta (small) peg and beer and people are intimidated by wine. Another key problem in India is the condition of wine. Wine is a perishable commodity, as perishable as milk in my opinion. If you don’t keep wine in temperature-controlled circumstances then wine gets damaged. Then it’s not a good experience and then you will want to drink beer. But our experience tells us that there is an increasing interest in wine. The wine culture is on its way, with the newer generation including wine in their lifestyle because it is a healthy choice.
Many of the wines are exclusive to the Wine Society of India.
How have you controlled the temperature in the Warehouse?
We have made a serious investment in air conditioning to ensure that the temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius, day and night.
Can you give tips to someone who wants to store wine in India?
A very clear and simple one—you need a wine chiller. Wine kept in a refrigerator is too cold and you end up with sedimentation and changes in wine quality. You can get a chiller from retail shops and the Wine Warehouse. But it’s essential to have a chiller because even if you’re Shah Rukh Khan, you turn off the AC when you leave home and the temperature rises to 30 degrees Celsius.
What kind of wine do Indians prefer?
They prefer wines that go well with spicy food; usually full-bodied red wines like Shiraz. But many white wines also go with spicy food, like Sauvignon Blanc.
What measures are you going to take to enhance the understanding of wine?
At the Warehouse there will be a tasting session every Friday at 6pm. Wines will be available free of charge to any visitor. We’ll have visiting winemakers and wine writers so that you can come along and learn about wine and have fun, because wine is about fun.
Wine Warehouse opens on 7 May at Keytuo Industrial Estate, Andheri (East), Mumbai. For details, call 022-42639200.