The biggest problem faced by wine drinkers in India is where to buy imported wines. Although wine and liquor shops are allowed to sell wines both in Mumbai and Delhi, the storage is pathetic in most places. The variety available is negligible and the quality couldn't be much lower.
Shah Wines in Crawford Market is a pleasant exception. Run by a dynamo, the young Randeep Munjral, it stocks over 150 imported wines, from countries like Australia, France, Italy, Chile, Spain, New Zealand, Canada and California. The prices vary from Rs. 500 to Rs. 4550 and the range varies from NZ Sauvignon to Canadian Icewine.
Domestic wines are also available in the range of Rs. 95 for Vino from Indage to Rs.615 for Grover's La Reserve.
The storage is a lot better than other road side wine shops which generally show no respect for the wines they sell. Prices are commendable too. He keeps the importers at tenterhooks and is always squeezing them as hard as he can. The good thing is he passes on the benefits to his customers. His prices are the lowest in Mumbai which is not bound by fixed prices. MRP means what it says, Maximum Retail Price.
Another facility he offers is free delivery in South Mumbai- though he is willing to bend the rules even when you are outside his delivery limits, if you are a film star or a celebrity. He is not the one for advance payment or even immediate payment from his regular Bacchus lovers. Says he, ‘I have never had a payment problem from any of the celebrities. They know the embarrassment it would cause them if I ask them for my outstanding payment at a party .'
With supermarkets being allowed to sell wines in Mumbai since October, he may be under some competitive pressure but his spirit of helping the customer first will remain his trump card.
Watch out for this column for some pleasant news about the otherwise, disappointing situation in Delhi so far.