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Wine education

Classes with glasses

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DRINK IT IN: Puri helps people understand their flavour palette when it comes to wine

Want to understand wine lingo? Figure out whether red goes with rogan josh and white with pasta? Wine education courses are here to help you become an instant oenophile.

When she goes dining with her friends, Janki Manhar Tank is the one who is entrusted with the wine orders. The 27-year-old marketing executive at a healthcare company isn't a wine connoisseur but she knows her merlot from her sangiovese, thanks to a wine education course she took out of curiosity two years ago (not to be mistaken for tastings, a marketing tool used by wineries and labels).

Janki is part of a growing tribe of people who wants clarity on the kind of grapes that go into their wine, its compatibility with the food on the table, its terroir. "I was quite interested in the process of wine making but I couldn't pick the right wine to order at a restaurant. I thought a one-day workshop might be a fun way to learn about wine, " says Janki, who is now rather partial to a white wine from New Zealand.

Market figures show that in the last four years, wine has been making more and more space on Indian menus alongside beer and whiskey. High levels of disposable income coupled with the aspirational lifestyles means that the number of wine drinkers increases every year.

According to Robert Beynat, CEO of Vinexpo, the total consumption of wine in India this year is predicted to reach 2. 869 million cases, a growth of 97. 15 per cent since 2009. Red wine consumption is expected to be 2. 23 million cases this year, recording higher consumption proportion at 77. 62 per cent as compared with the 72 per cent in 2009. White wines are forecasted to find at only 21. 79 per cent. Rosê, quickly becoming a favourite among the women, should probably sell 17, 000 cases.

Sovna Puri, a former assistant head sommelier at the famous Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, Benares, in Mayfair, London for two years, returned to India in 2008. When she left, if you felt like a glass of wine in Mumbai you had to head for a five star hotel. Today, the WSET-3 qualified head of training at Sula Vineyards, holds wine workshops for wine enthusiasts and industry professionals across the country.
"Wine started off as being something fancy and cool but now there's genuine interest in wine, " says Puri, who last month held a Wine & Spirits Education Trust recognised Level 1 one-day course in Mumbai. "At tastings I meet people who hate wine because they never found one that agreed with them. Wine education workshops are a great introduction to the subject because it helps you to figure out what your palette is, what flavours appeal to you, how to pair food with wine, " she says.

Tulleeho, provider of beverage education and training services, has been running WSET-approved - WSET is regarded as the world leader in wine education - courses for the past 2. 5 years and runs different level open programmes once every three months in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

"Wine education obviously appeals to those people who have had wine before. A first-time drinker might find the cost of such a course prohibitive, " points out Vikram Achanta, member of the core team at Tulleeho. Level 1 Award in Wines - a one-day course that offers basic knowledge and tips on how to pair food with wine - costs Rs 9, 000 at Tulleeho. Most wine enthusiasts don't opt for Level 2 and higher, while to become a sommelier you need to clear Level 5.

Figures suggest that western India leads in wine consumption, and that young adults in the 16-34 age group are the largest group of consumers of wine in India. (At Tulleeho, 28 is the average age of a participant. )

Even though people are well aware of the health benefits of drinking wine - also part of the reason why it gained popularity - both Achanta and Sovna do come across some interesting views on the subject. "People have different myths about pairing food with wine. White wine doesn't just go with white meat for instance, " he says.

"But not all wines are dry, nor are all port wines sweet. Also a lot of people think that rosê is made from mixing red and white. No it isn't, " says Sovna.

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