BWC events are held at glitzy five-star hotels. The wine is decent in terms of value-for-money. There is a lot more socializing which makes it easier on non-drinking spouses. BWC is run by a rotating committee and the quality of events depends on the committee. They do some interesting things– because they have a large membership, they can partner with folks who want to access their membership. Visiting wine brands typically want to do something with BWC– Penfolds showcased their wines at the Ritz-Carlton in a BWC event, Chilean wine brands offer tastings before launching their wines in the market. Things like that.
I remember an event that BWC did with Reidel, the wine glass brand, for instance. There was a lovely five-course degustation dinner followed by a presentation by a visiting European salesman from Reidel. He talked about how the shape of the glass would make a difference to the taste of the wine. I went in rolling my eyebrows, sure that it was all sales hogwash. To my shock, the same wine smelled different when poured into different glasses– Burgundy glass versus Bordeaux– all Reidel of course. Naturally I bought a case after the presentation. Now they are all broken. If I could, I would buy Zalto wine glasses for everything that I drink but they are too expensive. Farmlore has some very nice wine glasses from Nude– I believe they are the stem-zero ones. I use Lucaris, a Thai brand at home.
The biggest problem for Indian wine-drinkers is the punishing import duties, which makes accessing good wine difficult. We have a lot of importers who supply to Bangalore, ranging from Wine Park, Sonarys, Aspri, Tetrad, and Brindco. I buy from them all. We all know that we are paying more than double the price for the wine, but there doesn’t seem to be a way around. Founded by a young couple, the third wine club, Bangalore Wine Trails, offers great value for money at their events held at different restaurants.
The Karnataka Wine Board lists 16 wineries on its website. Grover’s website is rather clunky but their Reserve wines are good. Their latest range, Signet, has five wines that have been aged in all kinds of new-fangled yet ancient ways: foudre, amphora, and concrete. Haven’t tried them yet. Kadu is big-Daddy Sula’s local wine made in Karnataka. Kadu, which means forest in Kannada, promises to donate a portion of each bottle sold to tiger conservation so wildlife lovers should buy Kadu Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Shiraz. Big Banyan has tastings for around Rs. 850 in their winery just outside the city. While you are there, buy their excellent Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, which are hard to find in retail. SDU’s Winemakers Reserve is what Devesh Agarwal, current BWC President and TWC founder recommends as a great home-drinking wine. KRSMA always tries to raise the bar with their hard-to-get Shiraz and Sangiovese wines.