In recent years, wine has earned a reputation for being one of the most favoured alcoholic beverages in India. The national capital often hosts events meant to raise awareness about wine consumption. Next weekend, on 2-3 March, the Delhi Wine Festival will take place at Qla, Mehrauli, featuring an exquisite collection of the finest international wines.

The event is being organised by The Wine Project, which aims to bring world-class wine and food to niche consumers. At the same time, they wish to provide a platform for people to discuss, celebrate and collaborate over wine. With its presence in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the company aspires to push interactive sessions on the classic drink.

At the two-day Delhi Wine Festival, visitors can enjoy a perfect blend of all things food, wine, music and much more. The festival provides an opportunity for locals to access multiple international wine brands curated from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Chile, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, France and New Zealand. There will be wine flights, in which participants can taste pure wine portions as well as wine cocktails.

The festival, however, is not just limited to wines. There will be live barbecue counters, wood fire oven pizzas and desserts as well. The food will be made in accordance to a special in-house menu prepared to be consumed ideally with red, white and sparkling wines. One can try any international glass of wine at Rs 400 including taxes.

Arjun Sachar, founder of the Delhi Wine Festival, spoke to us about his understanding of wine consumption in India. He said, “In India, wine is something that people are a little intimidated of. Due to their lack of knowledge of wine, they are hesitant to approach it and talk about it. However, with the growing interest of the young population in wine and them choosing wine as a ‘status of choice’, wine is slowly gaining popularity in India, even though the country is still a major consumer of whiskey and vodka.” 

Sachar believes that most categories of wines have always faced the problem of high taxation, which usually makes purchasing a bottle of wine more expensive than a bottle in the spirit or beer categories. However, there has been a consistent increase in the level of wine consumption in India and the future seems bright too. 

“Until a few years ago, the majority of wine consumption used to take place in hotels. There has now been a shift, owing to people purchasing wines from retail stores and standalone restaurants. Domestic wineries have upped the game in production standards which has had a positive effect in the increase in sales of our homegrown wines,” Sachar added. 

A wine connoisseur himself, Sachar will be conducting public wine-tasting sessions at the festival. There will also be sessions about Indian wines where visitors will get to taste wines from Maharashtra’s York winery. Apart from this, there will be a Wine 101 Masterclass, an open tasting session, on both the days, where people will get to learn about the basics of wine and taste four to five international wines, including Mas Rabel, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blan, Shiraz etc.

Besides that, Baba’s Beans will be conducting coffee appreciation sessions on both the days, where one can learn about the history of coffee production in India, with special focus on Coorg and Chikmagalur.

The Delhi Wine Festival will also treat guests to amazing music by The Copycats, Tanya Nambiar and The Revisit Project etc. In addition to this, visitors can participate in various contests.

Giving an insight into what can be done to popularise wine in India, Sachar said, “We need to create awareness of wine options in the MRP bracket of Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000. At the Delhi Wine Festival one will see a lot of international wine bottle options at this price range so that a person can have the option of buying them eventually at a retail store. Here, wineries can have direct contact with consumers and both can learn from each other. There is a paramount need to create more experiences where consumers have the possibility of trying multiple wines and can make their own judgment and taste preferences. Apart from niche wine tasting and appreciation sessions, we need more avenues that create accessibility to wines. We need a way of self awareness that generates curiosity among wine enthusiasts and first-time wine drinkers.”

How can one pair wine with food in the Indian context? To this, Sachar said, “Wine and food pairing is an individualised affair. What works for one person might not work for another depending on their tastes and preferences. Traditional concepts of pairing white meat with white wine and red meat with red wine might still work in western countries. However, in a country like India where different regional cuisines have their own gravies and sauces, the relevance of enhancing the richness and subtle spices used in the dish is as important as pairing the meat with the wine so it is essential to match the intensity of the food with the wine. Oaked Chardonnay’s or Oaked Merlot’s go well with tandoor dishes, Indian kebabs with a Pinotage or a Pinot Noir, a curry that has a mild level of spice will go well with a Riesling, butter chicken with a Chianti.”

He remains hopeful of creating a dialogue about wine through this wine festival, and urges guests to conclude their evening on a sweet note with special wine-infused desserts which will be available at the venue.