All the hard work, the planning, and travel behind the 8th Indian Sommelier Championship, 2015 made the championship as well as the gala dinner to felicitate the finalists a sparkling success, writes SI correspondent, Brinda Gill, who was present on the night.
The championship culminated in a wonderful evening of conversation, conviviality, fine wines, gourmet food, enjoyable live music and warm service at two stylish venues at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon Hotel & Residences on 12th October 2015. The gala evening was attended by the partners of the championship, the jury, winemakers, members of the wine trade, F&B professionals, and selected trade media.
As they chatted amongst themselves and with guests, the nine finalists looked relaxed with no traces of having attended three days of demanding masterclasses in Delhi or Mumbai, passed a tough theory and service exam, presented all tasks expected of a sommelier (from deftly opening wine bottles to decanting and serving wine, tasting the wine and suggesting wine and food pairings) under the sharp eyes of the jury in a tight time slot, competing against over a hundred participants.
The evening commenced with cocktails and a choice of seven wines at the Sky Deck Lounge and flowed on to an elegant sit-down dinner at the Maple Room decorated in black, white, and a splash of gold which was the theme this year as well as the evening’s dress code. Magandeep Singh, founder, IWBS, Institute of Wine and Beverage Studies, as the master of ceremonies, took guests through the championship and announced the winners in different categories in his inimitable style, sprinkled with wit.
The coveted title of the 8th Indian Sommelier Champion, 2015, was won by Harish Acharekar of The Four Seasons, Mumbai. Pratik Angre, Taj Blue Diamond, Pune, was the first runner-up, Lalit Rane, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai, was the second runner up. (Pictured, from left to right: )
Reva K. Singh, founder and editor-in-chief, Sommelier India, presented the finalists with the latest copy of Sommelier India and encouraged them to read the magazine; all finalists received an annual subscription to the magazine. There were many other attractive prizes for different finalists, including all-paid visits to wineries in Spain and India.
A choice of six zesty antipasti, a salad bursting with freshness, a delicious main course, and an indulgent dessert were served during the evening along with a choice of 15 international and Indian wines. Gurjit Singh Barry and Gagan Sharma, the other two members of IWBS, interacted with guests and personally served the wines.
And then like all good things the beautiful evening slowly came to an end with the finalists inspired to learn more about the wonderful world of wine where there is always so much to enjoy and learn. Magandeep philosophically wrapped up the moment saying, “Honing the senses, tasting and deciphering wines is one thing. Yet the real lesson we wish for the participants to take back is one of humility. For, apart from the tactile skills, being a sommelier is a lot about listening, and accepting that the world of wines is just too vast to know it all.”
The Shining Stars of Sommellerie in India for 2015
Austrian Wine & Marketing Board winner: Harish Acharekar, The Four Seasons, Mumbai
Zwiesel Food & Wine Pairing Round winner: Neeraj Kapri, The Lalit, New Delhi
Bira Beer Round winner: Neeraj Kapri, The Lalit, New Delhi
Aspri Spirits round winner: Lalit Rane, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai
Nine Hills Best Tasting Skills: Neeraj Kapri, The Lalit, New Delhi
KRSMA Estates Indian Wine Round winner: Pratik Angre, Taj Blue Diamond,Pune
York Vineyards Sparkling Wines Round winner: Lalit Rane, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai
Grover-Zampa Vineyards Best Service Flair: Pratik Angre, Taj Blue Diamond, Pune
Fratelli Vineyards 2nd runner-up: Lalit Rane, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai
Wine Park 1st runner-up: Pratik Angre, Taj Blue Diamond, Pune