A slight nip in the air and plenty of sunshine made the weekend of 11th and 12th December 2010 perfect for the outdoors. And with the 4th Annual Pune Wine Tasting Festival, organized by the Pune Gourmet Club, on at the Rohi Villa grounds it was the place to head to for wine enthusiasts, writes Brinda Gill.
Dotting the lawns were garden umbrellas with seating, and attractive stalls of food and 16 wineries offering visitors a choice of over 60 wines for tasting. Seagram’s Nine Hills, Zampa, Jacob’s Creek, Rhythm, Four Seasons, Kiara Wines, Fratelli, York, Reveilo, Vinsura, Pause, Deccan Plateau, Vallonné, Bio Wine, Riona and Indus participated in the festival and their representatives interacted with visitors explaining nuances of their wines while offering them tastings.
With food counters rustling up specialities from salads to kebabs and seafood barbeques, some visitors opted to enjoy their glass of wine seated under garden umbrellas over a conversation and a plate of delicious food or simply reading up details of wines in the Indian Wine Companion wine guide that was part of the wine festival kit. Many visitors purchased wines they liked.
Advanced Sommelier Zubin Desai of MRM Wines who was present at the Kiara Wines stall and had brought a small stock of California wines was most pleased with the response. “I had brought a few bottles of Taft Street Gewurztraminer-Sonoma County and Clos LaChance Zinfandel-Central Valley. And even though they are priced more than Indian wines I was pleasantly surprised that they all were sold fast”. These wines will soon be introduced in restaurants.
Donning a hat, meeting with visitors and working on logistics was B. Shankarnarayan, the festival coordinator and moderator of Pune Gourmet Club. “The profile of the festival has certainly improved. We have had 16 wineries presenting over 60 wines from India, Australia, France, Italy, and Spain. There is range of wines to please every palate from Sicilian and Spanish varietals to oak-aged reserves, sparkling roses, and dessert wines”.
Looking out at the buzzing lawns, Shankarnarayan added, “The festival has gained visibility as the response from the public has been great and it is esteemed by the wineries. It is truly a festival for wine tasting and wine buying. The most heartening aspect of the festival is that taste -and not brand- is the king. If there is a paid tasting, most people go in for a known brand. At this festival, wine lovers have an opportunity to taste wines from new or lesser known wineries, and often ask for these when they dine at restaurants. In this way it helps newer wineries to get known”.
Apart from the wine tasting there was plenty to do. A display of art, live music, grape stomping, a choice of gourmet food, delicious whole wheat cookies, fresh greens at the Green Tokri stall, handmade cheeses from Auroville and other famous cheese making centres , informative wine related talks, a counter of Riedel glasses, information on wine workshops, a demonstration by Cordon Blue Chef Garima Arora …ensured a buzz all around. And a visibly pleased Shankarnarayan was soon receiving requests for hosting similar festivals in cities from Kolkata to Chandigarh.