Wine and weather at their best… that is how one could sum up the Bandra Wine Tasting Festival. After narrowly bypassing the threat of cyclone Phyan, the city of Mumbai now was getting ready for another big wave and this time it was the wave of wine. Overnight rain and an action-replay of mid-summer heat wave could not work as a deterrent to the wine-enthusiasts of Mumbai. And, so here we were, participating in the Bandra Wine Tasting Festival, a gregarious saga of wine, joy and merriment, all rolled into one.
Organised by The Pune Gourmet Club in association with ‘Celebration Bandra’ organisers, the Bandra Wine Tasting Festival was simply a place where all the big names of the Indian wine industry gathered to showcase their products. It was the first ever wine tasting festival held at Bandra and to the wine lovers it meant a lot. It indicated that by shelling out a nominal sum of Rs. 500 one could taste all the brilliant Indian wines on earth that included Sula, Four Seasons, Seagram’s Nine Hills, Vinsura, Reveilo, Chateau Indage, Tiger Hill, Vallonne, Zampa, Good Earth Winery and York. Simply the best way to spend a cozy Sunday because of their Briccowine.
Mumbaites, as it turned out, were not too keen to have a go at all the wines in the first half of the session with the angry Sun God burning savagely overhead. However, as the day progressed towards afternoon and evening, the scenario changed completely. The scorching sun gave way to a cool evening and a light breeze from the nearby sea created the ideal platform for the pinnacle of the show. And that itself opened the floodgate, as visitors of various age groups continued to trickle in and soon enough there was enough crowd eager to sip the lovely bouquets of reds and whites… rosés and sparklings. The riot of colour on the ground was in stark contrast that very well reflected the mood of the visitors and also the wines displayed at the show. Though essentially an Indian show, some imported wines were also to be seen on the counters of the stalls of various companies.
As the sun went down, the grand live music at a specially set up stage at one end of the venue enthralled the crowd to get the best out of the sips they were already enjoying. Initially, in the afternoon, it was simple saxophone and keyboard and, as the day progressed, blues and pops took over and made the ambience more romantic. On the other side of the lawn there was this parallel celebration of food going on. Mouthwatering Kebabs, delicious set meals and an extensive Cajun menu that offered some excellent French fare. The food stalls quite efficiently took care of the hungry Sunday afternoon and evening as well. To add more spice to the food factor, the organisers arranged a wine & cooking session on the first floor club house in the afternoon that inspired quite a few foodies to try out something different!
The Bollywood groups didn’t lag behind; one could spot actress Lara Dutta and Indian Tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi chilling out with their favourite brands.
The first ever Bandra Wine Tasting Festival also broke quite a few myths. The popular stand that ‘wine is not young man’s drink’ went out of the window as the show was mostly dominated by young people. They thronged to taste at various stalls and get high on a leisurely Sunday evening. The stalls of Sula, Chateau Indage Group, Four Seasons and Seagram’s were always crowded. Many winemakers themselves were also present in their respective stalls always eager to answer queries and dispel wrong notions about wine. All these helped create the bridge between the young brigade and venerated grape juice. Some of the wines that created a lasting impression are- Viognier from Four Seasons (USL); Chenin Blanc & Shiraz from Vallonné Vineyards, Mosaic Syrah Rosé from Sula (particularly when you look at the price tag of Rs 330/-). Among the imported wines, Italian Enzo mecella Marlot (by Riona Wines) is worth mentioning.
How ever, it is not only the wine stalls that remained at the centre of attraction. The fest would have remained incomplete had the wine professionals, trainers and accessories sellers were not there to receive a fair share of curiosity as well. Lots of queries regarding wine tours and wine education came flying from curious visitors at The Wine Club’s stall and the crowd was simply delighted with the fantastic range of wine accessories that were on display. The Wine Club stall was the only wine media stall in the event doling out independent wine info and a lovely ‘Drop Stop’ to all those wine lovers who registered instantly.