|Which are the best wine shops in town? The irrepressible Avininder Singh was commissioned to write an article. Here’s his unedited report. The other day the Ed had this brainwave. “Go forth,” she said (she does get these Biblical moments). “And find me Private Liquor Shops in Delhi and compare them with those in Gurgaon”.|
No such animal in Delhi I mutter, sotto voce. “I heard that,” says she, “Get your idle butt moving!!”
And so, there I am, on a hot and humid evening, circa 4th September, 2008, pulling into the parking lot of the Savitri Cinema Complex in Greater Kailash – II, New Delhi where, I am assured, such an animal does exist.
Sure enough the signboard reads, “Government Approved Wine & Beer Shop”. No sign of the ubiquitous D’s that rule Delhi’s liquor trade – DTTDC, DSCSC, DSISDC, DCCWS – and if you know what that lot stands for, you’re a better man than me!
I approach the shop; pull open the door, check with the salesman and YES! This is IT – my very first Private Retail Liquor Shop in Delhi.
INTERIOR: Air-conditioned, L shaped public area with the shorter part of the L housing the Wines. Generally neat and clean but currently undergoing renovation. Stock dominated by Spirits and Beer. About 25% of total shelf space dedicated to Wines.
DISPLAY OF WINES: Large Wine Rack app. 12’ x 7’, various shelves, central island, display niche. Nothing is temperature controlled. Ambient temperature, with AC’s on, is about 26 degrees Celsius.
STAFF: Run of the mill – pretty much non-English speaking. Do not expect informed guidance. But helpful and willing if you know what you want!!
CURRENT STATE: Pretty much chaos. Shop has just shifted to this address a few days ago. Met Ashok Gulrajani, who advises that it will take 10 – 15 days to get into tip-top shape.
WHAT’S ON THE SHELVES: The usual domestic suspects are all there – Château Indage, Grover’s, Nilaya, Nine Hills, Sula, Vinsura et al, at prices ranging between Rs.300 to Rs.500.
The imported picks are drawn at random and then arranged, by price, in ascending order. All prices are INCLUSIVE of taxes. US $ 1 = Rs.44
• Malambo Shiraz Malbec 2007 (Argentina): Rs. 600
• Miguel Torres San Medin Sauv Blanc 2007 (Chile): Rs.625
• JP Chenet Cinsault – Grenache, Vin De Pays D’OC (France): Rs.685
• JP Chenet Colombard – Chardonnay, Vin De Pays Des Cotes De Gascogne (France): Rs.685
• JP Chenet Cabernet Shiraz, Vin De Pays D’OC (France): Rs.685
• Vin Opera Pignoletto 2007 (Italy): Rs.760
• Errazuriz Merlot Cab. Sauv. 2003 (Chile): Rs.775
• Vin Opera Sangiovese 2007 (Italy): Rs.780
• Torres Vina Sol Catalunya 2007 (Chile): Rs.795
• Hardys Stamp Chardonnay Semillon 2006 (Australia): Rs.800
• Castel Cab Sauv 2005 (France): Rs.875
• Castel Merlot 2005 (France): Rs.875
• Grapes NV Brut Cuvee (Australia): Rs.995
• Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz 2003 (Australia): Rs.1200
• Xanadu Secession Sauv Blanc Semillon (Australia): Rs.1300
• Sileni Cellar Selection Marlborough Sauv Blanc 2006 (New Zealand): Rs.1410
• Bouvet Ladubay Brut (France): Rs.1450
• Pescorosso Vendemia 2003 (Italy): Rs.1575
• Arboleda Maipo Valley Cab Sauv 2003 (Chile): Rs.1685
• Barton & Guestier Pouilly Fuisse 2005 (France): Rs1825
• Barton & Guestier Chateauneuf de Pape 2006 (France): Rs.2100 (app $48)
• Ernest & Julio Gallo Single Vineyard Cab Sauv, Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County 1997 (USA): Rs. 2255 (app. $51)
• Piper Heidesek Champagne Brut (France): Rs.3600 (app. $82)
• Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino DOC 2003 (Italy): Rs.4700 (app. $107)
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK Kingfisher Bohemia Chenin Blanc Chardonnay 2007 (South Africa): Rs.680
• Natures Bounty Casuarina Creek Cab Sauv 2005 (Australia): Rs.800 (app.$18)
• Natures Bounty Casuarina Creek Traminer 2006 (Australia): Rs.800/-
HEY DID YOU KNOW THIS? • Halana Merlot 2003 (MOROCCO): Rs.1200. Had you the vaguest clue that Morocco made wine? I certainly did not.
• Party Blu Vino Spumante Brut (Italy): Rs.1375. You have to see this bottle to believe it. It’s printed with an image of – get this – Santa & his reindeer!!
OMIGOD! This one breaks the mould. Gold California Vin Gris wine with 24K GOLD ADDED (You just have to see the flakes when you tilt the bottle)
Bottled by Gold, St. Helena, California, USA: Rs.2850. (www.goldwine.us)
By now it’s 9.15 pm. My hands are black with dust from the bottles and I’m more than ready to call it a day. The staff who have generally ignored me while I prodded and poked, but have always come to help at my call, bid me a fond farewell – they will know me, next time, for sure.
My stock has also risen with the parking attendant who now wants to know whether I am a liquor supplier. Doesn’t quite get it when I say that I write for a magazine. Don’t worry my friend – sometimes neither do I.
WRAP UP COMMENTS Don’t go expecting anything major and you won’t be disappointed. What you see is what you get – there are no attempts at Specials or Promotions. On the other hand, it’s a conveniently located shop in customer friendly surroundings. A lone woman shopping would feel at ease. Staff is friendly if not knowledgeable. All major Credit Cards accepted. Give them a few days to settle down and then pay a visit – if you like to browse over your wine this is the place!
POSTSCRIPT Got back home; a cold shower; cracked a well chilled bottle of Nine Hills Chenin Blanc; and while the trusted cook and bottle washer put on dinner did what I should have done in the first place – SURFED THE NET! Discovered http://excise.delhigovt.nic.in, the official website of the Department of Excise, Entertainment & Luxury Tax, Govt. of NCT of Delhi.
There are 97 L – 52 Licensees in Delhi of whom 15 have also taken the L – 52F License for IMPORTED SPIRITS, WINE & BEER. The geographical breakup is:
• South Zone: 9
• Central Zone: 2
• West Zone: 3
• East Zone: 1
So, lots to explore!! Gurgaon coming up next.
NAME OF OWNER: Chittaranjan Suri
ADDRESS: 17 – 18, Savitri Cinema Complex, Greater Kailash – II, New Delhi – 110048
CONTACT NUMBER: 29212256
HOURS OF OPERATION: 10am to 10pm
PARKING: Not much of a problem. At 7.15pm, when I arrived, there was plenty of parking space at Rs.10/-. May be tight earlier in the day.