The 200th event of the Delhi Wine Club went off like a charm. Hyatt Regency, our hospitality partner did a fabulous job. Serving pre-plated hot food of consistent quality is not an easy job. We might have started the concept of sit-down, fine dining wine dinners in India - supposedly, with the highest number of guests served - about 250!
The tone for the event was set earlier by the Director General of OIV, Mr Federico Castellucci, who came all the way from Paris to attend the dinner unconditionally. I am happy I was able to organise a formal invitation from the IGPB and subsequent visits for him to Nashik and Pune to make the trip fruitful. I am sure he enjoyed the tastings I arranged with Abhay Kewadkar from Four Seasons (Abhay also came for just one day for the dinner!) and Fratelli, when Kapil Sekhri returned from Bangalore specially to be present at Hotel Grand.
A big thank you to Mr. Ranjan Mathai, our Foreign Secretary who proved us wrong by attending and telling me 'it is nonsense that people think we cannot attend such events.' He was just 'one of us'! We are moving in the right direction to promote the wine culture!
Although the Portuguese Ambassador could not be present as it was his birthday and the Chilean Ambassador who is ever so encouraging to promote Chilean wines was out of the country, the Italian, French and Georgian Ambassadors did accept our invite and what's more, thoroughly enjoyed the evening, meeting members and enjoying the 10 wines with the dinner and aperitifs.
Rajeev Samant of Sula is a globe-trotter and the global Brand Ambassador for Sula though Cecilia Oldne wears the official mantle now. But they planned their life around the dinner and were present - a big thank you. Kapil Sekhri of Fratelli winess also re-worked his schedule to come for the evening.
It was also the beginning of perhaps a new chapter, as the newly formed Delhi Gourmet Club had booked 2 tables. As a matter of fact, Rocky Mohan, one of the founder members and one of the great foodies of town presented a plaque to me for promoting the wine culture in Delhi for the last 10 years. Good to know folks are watching and recognising the efforts of the Club.
Friends, to me every dinner has to be an enjoyable experience on its own and the idea is to learn just a wee bit more of wines and let the palate explore something new. We are neutral, so far as the wines, regions , countries, importers, hotels are concerned, though we do have friends of the club; we count Hyatt as one - they have always supported the club activities.
We thank the wine importers for their support - Ace Beveragez, Prestige Wines (3 times over), Brindco, Tabuni Wines, Agnetta International (a special thanks to M/s Sottomayor and Jackson for coming from Chile for the event) and Hema Connoisseur. A very special recogniton for my friend Bruce Cakebread in Napa Vallley, California for showing magnanimity and offering one wine for the evening.
Our members have always been forthcoming to help - this one did require an active participation - Thanks to Arun Batra for looking after the food and service, Parthi and Gautam for overseeing the venue, ably assisted by Sanjay from my office and more importantly, Joachim and Varun from the club for managing the wine service very efficiently - much after you had left, they made the hotel staff sit, collect the wine bottles and give the account. I am sure the future of the club is in good hands. And if you enjoyed the slides as the backdrop, it was due to the efforts of Adil Arora who had been working for over a month locating and arranging the pics.
This is the time also to specially thank our founder members for sticking with us for 10 long years - now it does seem to be long in hindsight. Thanks for coming to cut the cake - Founder members - Arvinda Arora, Ajay Bahl, Radhika Bahl, Sourish Bhattacharyya, Percival Billimoria, Dipti Chopra, Dr. Balesh Jindal, Dr. R.K. Jindal, Ravi Khanna, Neera Makhija, Ravi Sachdev, Naveen Sardana, Monika Gulati, Gautam Gulati, Tusha Gupta, Praveen Gupta, Ranjan Pal.
I have reserved my very special thanks for my friend Yasho Saboo and his wife Anu of Ethos Summit who agreed to be a part of the event - from the word Go - about 8 months ago and said they would try to get Rolex on board - and they did! It is not only the financial involvement, that helped us raise the bar 3-4 notches for wines, but their belief in us as a club of high profiled members who believe in an elegant lifestyle with wine as an important component. I am sure many of you are fans of Rolex and would be considering an upgrade soon to their huge and fine range of watches.
A special thanks to Ace Beveragez for flying in the Drappier champagne, Bruce Cakebread for shipping the wine by air and footing the bill and the Chilean embassy for supporting the air-freighting of Caballo Loco. It's friends like these who keep us going despite the damn high taxes.
And for those who thought there were too many speeches - well, like I say there is no such thing as Free Lunch!! But seriously, we did want your friends and corporates who came to understand our club culture and share with them what we have been doing all these 199 events for 10 years. But more importantly, we had to give time for the Hyatt staff to be in sync with the service. This was the reason also that we avoided re-pours or re-serves of dishes though many of you managed to twist some arms nicely - and that is fine.
Cheers and see you soon for the 201th event in October. As I had said in my speech, we have not yet ever missed any month for a DWC event.
Subhash Arora, President