Chennai Wine Club in the Making

Despite difficulties of getting quality imported wines in Chennai due to draconian state laws, wine enthusiasts have been motivated by the existing clubs like Delhi Wine Club and those in Bangalore and Chandigarh etc. and are ready to form one in Chennai.

Chinmaya Arjun Raja is President of Alliance Francaise of Madras. A wine enthusiast, he makes it a point to visit some vineyard and attend wine tasting sessions during his visits to France. He hopes to attend a few training programs this year in Loire valley.

He also hopes to see his dream of forming Chennai Wine Club soon. Towards this goal, he organised the first ever wine appreciation workshop with a guided tasting session for the general public of Chennai last week in which the participants were given a basic wine introduction.

It was highly successful, partly he admits, because it was a novelty and was free of cost. 'We had a tremendous response and finally we could manage to accommodate only 65 due to shortage of space, glasses and wine bottles.'

'We had people who tasted wine for the first time and we also had people who drink wine at least 3-4 times a week. It was an interesting session and everyone enjoyed!' says Arjun.

'We tasted Sula Sauvignon Blanc, Grover Reserve 2004 and 2005 (to make people understand the difference in taste). We plan to include French wines in the next session which I will organise on the 8th March.'

The workshop was conducted by Dr. Bruno Monange, a connoisseur who also owns a small vineyard in Burgundy. He is very knowledgeable about Burgundy wines and has conducted many wines tasting sessions. He visits India frequently to help an NGO which treats poor patients in Haveri, Karnataka.

Bruno spoke of the entire wine making process including the general nature of wine culture in France, technical aspects about processing wine, different types of wine, how to choose wine, how to drink, how to appreciate and also the social aspects of wine drinking.

One hopes that the audience is as enthusiastic when they have to pay for their wines like the members of Delhi Wine Club do. Ask Balaji Rao, the President of Hyderabad Wine club and the frustration shows on his face. 'People just don't want to pay money for good wines,' he laments. It is to his credit that he continues the crusade.

With a little bit of help from friends like the Delhi Wine Club, Arjun who had met its President, Subhash Arora at IFE-India in December, 2007 to discuss the working of the club and was completely motivated to start one in his city, one hopes to see Chennai soon on the India wine clubs map.

Subhash Arora




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