Vinoble 2008 : An Indian in Paradise

Whereas the previous edition of Vinoble, the Sweet and  Sherry wine show, one did not see any other Indian in Jerez in May 2006, this year one producer even participated as an exhibitor from Holland, reports Subhash Arora who was present  at the bi-annual event.

I was a bit taken aback when a few people addressed me as Sahib at the gala reception on the eve of the opening of the 4-day Show, on 24th May. The term is the Indian way of addressing someone politely and respectfully, like an esquire in UK or Don in Spain though that word is used only with the first name.

I was perplexed when a couple of them asked me if I was the Sahib. It was only when I met the Sahib that the puzzle was solved. Rajiv Kaushik, the proprietor of Sahib Wines and Spirits hails from Delhi but lives in Netherland for the last 15 years and was the sole Indian exhibitor, albeit listed from his country of abode.

Rajiv, as I concluded during the next two days was in paradise. Not only does he produce wine he claims are suitable for Indian spicy foods, he has also developed red sweet wines as well as liqueurs from alphonso mangoes, cardamom and rose which have an alcohol content of 20-28%.

He was being hounded by many restaurateurs and importers who wanted to become his agent for Spain. He is in no hurry to oblige. 'I am telling them to take it slowly and order a pallet or two and try it out before we can discuss the distribution arrangements.'

He claims to be selling well in several Indian restaurants throughout Europe. Son of an Ayurvedic doctor, he uses Vedas as the back ground for the history and formulation of wine. 'I had been studying various processes to make a wine that would go well with spicy Indian food and did research for 4 years.' His efforts seem to have paid off.

I tasted his wine with Haldiram namkeen, fairly spicy Indian snacks, and I must admit the compatibility was very much there, even though I won't say the same for synergy which many Italian wines provide with Italian food. Coupled with low prices, he should be able to create a niche in the Indian market too, though I won't give his sweet red wine much of a chance of roaring success despite his claim that the sweetness makes it best choice with spices.

If and when he decides to come to India, the labels which are rather exotic for Europe would need to go overhauling as they remind one more of Pan Parag, Prince Pan and Mughale- Azham's Anarkali rather than wine-talking of which it is fine to call it table wine in Europe but in India, it wont cut it as a quality wine in India. With no known origins- he gets them produced in Italy and Spain with grapes he would not rather tell (the typical Ayurvedic style) his secrets, it is on the lines of Ayurvedic medicines, which will find many believers as takers, but nearly not enough.

Rajiv may be contacted at





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