Awards mean recognition. We know that humans crave recognition. Abraham Maslow’s theory defines such an orientation as ‘esteem need’ wherein a person, who has already achieved physical, security and social needs, aspires to be acknowledged for his/her efforts. No wonder we have awards associated with virtually every sphere of life. At the highest level they come as Nobel prizes, Grammys, Emmys, Oscars and the list goes on endlesssly into every possible area of expertise.
It was hence logical that the Indian wine industry- a comparatively nascent one- would come up with its own set of awards sooner than later. It finally happened this year with delWine Excellence (dWE) awards. The awards are the outcome of collaboration between three entities -‘delWine’, an e-newsletter on wine, ‘Indian Wine Academy’, an organisation that promotes wine (both founded by noted wine personality Subhash Arora) and ‘Indian Restaurant Spy’, a food and wine blog by renowned journalist Sourish Bhattacharyya. Supported by India’s first and only Master of Wine Sonal Holland who is also co-chair on the jury and Rifaquat Ali Khan Mirza, an eminent hospitality professional, dWE awards have provided the initial spark to accredit wine professionals across the country for their efforts with requisite deliberation. The awards are envisioned to be held in two stages, one each in Delhi and Mumbai- India’s major wine hubs.
According to Subhash Arora, the primary consideration for holding these awards at two places is to do full justice to hotels and restaurants engaged in wine service in both these cities. “To make the awards more interesting, we have incorporated different award categories on the national level as well” Arora adds.
The Inaugural Event
The inaugural Delhi-National Capital Region round of dWE awards was held on September 14, 2016 , at the Peacock Ballroom of Hotel Pullman New Delhi Aerocity. The awards ceremony was preceded by a Wines of the World (WOW) showcase, where guests had the opportunity to sample more than 120 wines, Indian as well as international. The engagement also offered good networking opportunity, not otherwise feasible at such a scale. Ensuite, the awards ceremony was conducted around a sit-down wine-paired dinner for 300 wine professionals, journalists and connoisseurs, admirably managed by Team Pullman amid an exuberantly circulating audience.
With an eminent jury in place, the objectivity associated with the awards was largely established. However there were hits and misses related to expectations- a normal phenomenon in any competitive environment. Interestingly, there was a tie for the Jury Awards for Best Sommelier of the Year (Five-Star Hotel) and the Popular Perception Award for Best Importer. Also, Editor’s Choice Award for the Best Value for Money Wine List (Five Star Hotel) was not given away because the organizers felt that Five-Star hotels ought to transfer the price benefit of duty free imports to the consumer before being considered for such an award.
The final list of winners is summarized in the image given below . Please feel free to download and share. Alternately, click here to view and download as high resolution PDF.
The Road Ahead
delWine Excellence awards have come as a welcome development on the Indian winescape. Such initiatives are bound to stimulate the wine market in the country towards refinement in wine quality and service levels. Speaking about immediate plans after the inaugural event, Arora said that apart from the Mumbai version of dWE awards, they also plan to host India Wine Awards, which, for the first time in the country, will be based on blind barrel tastings in each of the country’s wine-producing districts by a panel of experts. These Awards are being planned for February-March 2017 and will be held in Mumbai and Bangalore in alternate years.
“With the two awards, we will honor the country’s best wine professionals and cover 360 degrees of the wine experience — from wine service, imports, retail and tourism to the quality of wines being produced in India, from consumer-driven industry awards to tastings-led expert awards,” said Arora.
The wine scene in India seems all set for the next level of evolution.