So you’re a wine lover on the look-out for new opportunities to taste wine in Delhi? How do you fancy spending an evening tasting at least 10-12 different wines, while conversing with a Sommelier about these wines? Better yet, how do you fancy doing this for free?
If this sounds like a good evening plan, take a drive down Delhi’s beautiful, winding ‘Shooting Range Road’ near Tughlakabad fort, go past the Delhi border and head to the Claridges near Surajkund. No, it’s not as far as it sounds – a 20 minute drive from GK-II is well worth the reward of a free wine tasting evening with a Sommelier.
At Claridges, head to the wine bar and ask for their Sommelier, Gaia Agnetti. Then settle down to an evening of wine tasting. The wine bar is well-made, with the wine stored on shelves all around the small room. This ‘library’ like atmosphere lets you walk around and read the labels of all the wines on the Claridges wine list. To complete the library feel, there are also some books on wine such as ‘The World Atlas of Wine’ available for guests to browse. The tasting tables are conveniently placed in the middle. The selection of wines made available for tasting changes frequently. When I visited recently, there were at least 12 wines available for tasting. The whites included a Pinot Grigo from Italy, a Sauvignon Blanc and an unwooded Chardonnay from Australia, a chardonnay from Chile and a Sula Sauvignon Blanc. The reds included a couple of wines from Tuscany, a Merlot from Australia, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and two Sula wines – the Satori Merlot and the Dindori Reserve.
The pace is relaxed as there are usually only a couple of guests at a time. The Sommelier, Gaia, is from Italy and is knowledgeable about the wines. Wine tasting opportunities like this, while common abroad – especially in wine shops, are rare in India. I asked her why Claridges provided the wine tasting opportunity for free. She said the goal was to explain about wine, where it comes from, differences between varieties, and why it tastes like it does. This is also meant to be a value-added experience for all guests at Claridges – whether they’re staying in the Hotel or not. Lofty thinking like this will help to establish this Hotel’s reputation as good wine establishment. More visitors to the wine bar will certainly help to promote this beautiful hotel. I hope that more hotels in Delhi will follow the example of Claridges in Surajkund and provide tasting opportunities for free, or at reasonable prices. As I’ve said before – train your clientele and they will reward you with sales.
The tastings take place everyday except Sunday, from 7.00pm-9.00pm. Though the policy is that you can just walk-in, it may be a good idea to call ahead (Tel: 0129-4190 000) and confirm that tastings will be taking place. I know that Gaia is scheduled to be out on vacation the entire month of August – and I’m not sure if Claridges will find a replacement to keep up the tastings in her absence. The wine list at Claridges Surajkund is quite modest for such an establishment, but it is being overhauled and new wines will be added soon. I look forward to visiting again when the new wines are in.