Swirl it right with mistress of wines

World’s first wine master from India SONAL HOLLAND speaks about her journey and interest in wine

Published: 28th July 2017 10:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th July 2017 09:01 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: If you want to enjoy a wine at a budget price of `1,000, a good quality Indian wine would be your best bet. India’s first wine master Sonal Holland suggests York Arros Shiraz Reserve or the Fratelli Sangiovese.

In Karntaka, Krsma Estates Cabernet Sauvignon is a competent, delicious wine but unfortunately is made only in small quantities, she adds. She says wine has become more socially acceptable beverage in India and women, in particular, represent an important market for the wine industry in India because they view wine as a classy, healthy and socially acceptable beverage with fewer cultural inhibitions. “All these findings are supported by India Wine Insider 2017, a research founded by me,” she says.

But, as with any industry, the wine industry in India has both weak and strong players who are trying to improve wine quality, packaging and marketing. “The most important need for the industry is to grow the market and this can happen only if more consumers come to wine and there is a loyalty shift to wine among existing consumers. Government can certainly help by lowering taxes.” Abroad, Indian wine is more a novelty when you see them on the shelves of supermarkets in UK. In restaurants, Indian wines are yet to find a permanent place, she says adding, “but, it is not uncommon to find an Indian wine listed at a top Michelin -starred Indian restaurants in London. For example, Gymkhana in Mayfair has Fratelli Sette and Chutney Mary. One of the oldest Indian restaurants in London has Grovers La Reserve on its wine list.”

As the wife of a British expatriate working in Mumbai, Sonal has had opportunities to explore the wine and food cultures across Europe. “Particularly, the UK... where evenings were spent with family and friends over several glasses of wine from all around the world. This led me to wonder if India could have a thriving wine industry.” Consumers in India were starting to develop an early interest in wine with a handful of wine producers and importers of international wines. However, she says that Indian industry lacked qualified wine professionals who could be educators, consultants or ambassadors of wine. “I then decided to further my interest in wine with the commitment that I would ensure the highest possible qualification in wine and the aim of being the first Master of Wine from India.”
She was declared world’s first wine master from India by Londons Institute of Masters of Wine in 2016. She recalls that qualifying for the Master of Wine (MW) was extremely challenging and gruelling. “I travelled extensively and used every opportunity to taste wines to harness my tasting ability and improve my knowledge of the wine world.”

Her favourite wine changes every week but champagne remains her go to wine, at any time, any occasion. Sonal is also a great admirer of German Rieslings. “In reds, I like Burgundy and Tuscany.” She feels one in a billion when her 7-year-old daughter asked, “Mummy, are you really India’s first and only Master of Wine?”.  

Sonal will be in the city for a wine tasting session today.

Wine tasting by Sonal Holland

Sonal will host a masterclass on basic knowledge of wines such as throwing a wine party, which wines to buy and the best food and wine pairing at Foodhall, VR Bangalore on July 29 at 6 pm. Registration cost `500.

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