For many decades, tipplers had no choice but to pick their wine from “wine shops” that sell and stock more spirits and beers than wine. Most of these stock wines in abysmal conditions, letting the liquid “cook” from constant exposure to heat and often sunlight. But much has changed over the last 18 months, now that supermarkets have been allowed to sell wine and beer, and licence fees have been substantially reduced. Now we have a growing number of wine shops that offer a variety of Indian and international choices, stocking bottles on their side, in temperature-controlled spaces and away from the sun. Some supermarkets have also set up dedicated wine sections, known in the trade as “store-in-store” outlets.
One of the more recent chains, Santé already has six outlets in Mumbai, four stand-alone and two store-in-store. The Walkeshwar Ridge Road outlet feels like a boutique store for art deco furniture. Wine racks, on which bottles are placed horizontally and vertically, extend across the central wall, segregated into international and Indian wine sections. Labels tacked to the racks contain information about the wine and tasting notes. The shop manager is on hand for assistance, should customers need suggestions or help locating a particular label. There’s a lot to pick from for the budget-conscious, starting with a mere Rs100 for a 75ml bottle of Sula. Santé’s outlet in Big Bazaar is not as pretty, but it does offer a 3% rebate on all bottles.
Walled up: The range of varietals at Sante.
On Bhulabhai Desai Road, the store-in-store concept is taken to the luxurious extreme. This mid-sized gourmet store, which retails everything from fruit to Italian cheeses, has a basement cellar that resembles a private club. A reception desk doubles as a tasting spot. Still and sparkling wines are stocked separately, organized by colour and country. There’s a plush couch for buyers to sink into as the manager enlightens them about Chilean quaff and vintage Bordeaux. Entry-level Indian wines aren’t available. Starting at Rs750, the international section, which includes mid-level wines, is more accommodating. Its champagne and sparkling wine section includes the famous Dom Perignon at Rs16,000.
Rack to the future: Globus, inside Infinity Mall, stocks wines from around the world.
Another growing chain of “walk-in wine boutiques”, Globus has taken a different approach. Currently it has outlets in Infinity Mall (Andheri) and Thakur Mall (Dahisar) with more store-in-store outlets opening at all Star Bazars. Globus displays its bottles horizontally as well as vertically. The wines are arranged country-wise and the staff is reasonably well informed. The variety is staggering. Its portfolio includes more than 400 international wines, evenly divided between New World and Old World, with prices ranging from Rs200 to Rs20,000.
Owned by domestic winemaker Chateau Indage, IN on Annie Besant Road is a softly lit wine boutique in the same building as Ivy, the wine bar. Currently only Chateau Indage wines are available in its domestic section. Like Santé, its international selection consciously addresses the price-sensitive drinker, though you will find select premium labels such as Pol Roger champagne.
This supermarket in Mulund has a range that is comprehensively representative. The storage standards are impressive, with almost all the wine stored on its side.
Where to get your bottle
• Globus Wines: Unit Number 209, Infiniti Mall, second floor, gate No. 3, Link Road, Andheri (W). Also at Star Bazaar, Thakur Shopping Mall, near Dahisar Check Naka, Mira Bhayander Highway, Mira Road. And at Haiko Supermarket, Hiranandani Gardens, Central Avenue, Powai. (Hotline for all the outlets 26329005).
• Nature’s Basket: Shop No. 30, World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade (22152006). Also, at Tirupati Apartments, Shop No. 6, Bhulabhai Desai Road, opposite Mahalakshmi Temple (23526775).
• IN: Annie Besant Road, Worli (66547939).
• Santé: 10, Ridge Road, next to Cafe Ridge, Malabar Hill (23684128). Also at Shop No. 1, Sahina Apartments, Pali Mala Road, Bandra (26402126). And at Big Bazaar, Phoenix Mills Compound, Senapathi Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (66626713).
• Shoprite: Hyper Nirmal Lifestyle Mall, LBS Marg, Mulund (W) (66490641).