The winners of the 2019 India Wine Awards were revealed at a sparkling black-tie event attended by luminaries of the wine and hospitality world at The Leela, Mumbai.
The awards ceremony saw a total of 116 medals being awarded, to wines in Silver, Gold and Diamond Best in Show categories, and a further 17 restaurants in the country being recognized for their outstanding wine lists and as best wine destinations.
The winning wines included 17 Diamond Best in Class Trophies for those outstanding wines that had the top scores in the competition results. This year, the popular Best Wine Pairings with Cuisines Popular in India category had 8 Trophy Winners emerge from 56 wines, paired with six dishes including sushi, Kung Pao chicken, pizza, Haleem, Thai green curry, and Fabelle chocolates from ITC group.
The India Wine Awards, led by the most qualified and foremost wine professionals in India and abroad, is an initiative powered by Sonal Holland MW, India’s first Master of Wine, Founder-Director of SoHo Wine Club and her Namesake Academy.
Wines entered in the competition were judged over two days, in September this year, by a panel chaired by Sonal Holland MW, comprising 17 distinguished wine professionals, hospitality leaders and tastemakers. As always, the tastings were done blind, without any knowledge of producer, region or quality level.
The key highlights of the India Wine Awards 2019 were:
• The IWA are India’s first awards to recognise that at comparable price-points, well-made, premium examples of Indian wines are on par with international ones for their world-class attributes, indicating that the Indian wine industry is indeed maturing, and domestic wines are evolving for the better, in taste, quality and enjoyability
• For the first time in the history of the IWA medal stickers have been introduced for all silver, gold and diamond best in show trophy winners, which can be affixed on award-winning wines. India Wine Award medal stickers affixed on bottles will help consumers immediately distinguish excellent wines from the ordinary. This consumer-centric initiative will guide customers to choose the champions in the wine industry from retail shelves
• As leaders in the domain of wine education in India since the past decade, this year the IWA launched a trio of masterclasses focusing on the appreciation of the different facets of wine. ‘The Extraordinary Italian Taste’ and the ‘Varietal Tasting – Focus on Chardonnay’, were in partnership with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), global leaders in wine, spirit and sake education. ‘A Journey of the Senses – The Glass and the Palate’ in association with Lucaris Crystal, the leading stemware company from Asia, the official stemware partners at the IWA 2019. The resounding attendance to the masterclasses reflected reflects a growing demand and urgent need for quality wine & spirits education among members of the trade as well as consumers.
On October 5, seen enjoying award-winning wines in fine crystal Lucaris glasses over a gastronomic dinner hosted by The Leela Mumbai, were Ian Harris – Global CEO of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), who flew to India for the very first time to be a part of the India Wine Awards celebrations; Stefania Costanza – Consul General of Italy in Mumbai, who has demonstrated staunch support for India Wine Awards 2019 via an ‘Extraordinary Taste of Italy’ pavilion at the event, showcasing wines, pastas, olive oil, artisanal cheeses and more; Ravi Vishwanathan, the newly-minted Chairman of Grover Zampa Vineyards, who offered his support by partnering on the Awards for the Restaurant Wines program; Uday Verma, Executive Director at Lucaris Crystal, the official glassware partner for IWA 2019; and many more. Anish Trivedi, the whisky evangelist and the Master of Ceremonies for the India Wine Awards 2019, along with Aishwarya Nair of The Leela Group, were seen mingling at Shazé’s stylish bar which had on display their festive Shazé Hosting Collection.
The jury, now in its third year, once again comprised of some of the most important names in the country’s food & beverage industry. This included Taljinder Singh – Senior Vice President SeleQtions & South Mumbai Hotels, General Manager – The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai & Taj Mahal Tower, Mumbai; Zubin Songadwala – General Manager, ITC Hotels; Namrata Zakaria – Writer & Columnist, Mumbai Mirror; Dietmar Kielnhofer – General Manager, JW Marriott Sahar; Ruma Singh – Senior Wine Writer; Subhash Arora – Founder & Editor- delWine, Wine writer and Wine Judge; Lalit Rane – Sommelier, St. Regis Mumbai, amongst many more. The jury received delectable hampers from ITC’s Fabelle exquisite chocolates.
Speaking on the occasion, Sonal Holland MW said, “We feel proud that in three years, since our launch in 2017, we have established India Wine Awards as the biggest and the most authoritative wine competition in the country that holds authenticity, credibility, relevance and integrity as its 4 cornerstones. It is equally exciting that the India Wine Awards which recognizes, rewards and celebrates the best of wines and wine programs in the country, continues to get bigger, bolder and broader in its vision, with education, empowerment and experiences at the heart of its creative intent.”
Applauding the India Wine Awards initiative, Rajeev Samant – Founder & CEO of Sula Vineyards, India’s leading wine producer said, “The India Wine Awards is such an important initiative for our wine industry in India. We need a credible awarding body that recognizes noteworthy wines being produced in India as well as imported wines that are coming into the country; something that a consumer can refer to when selecting their wines. India Wine awards, as the country’s apex and most premium awards is a necessary step towards recognising wines that are worth drinking.”
Rahul Akerkar, whose restaurant Qualia was awarded for the Best Upcoming Wine Destinations in the new restaurant launch category, shared his excitement, “The India Wine Awards are a credible platform to evaluate and rank wines, both domestic and imported that are available for sale in India. Wines are judged by the jury in a professional, organized, unbiased manner. As a member of the jury for the past three years, it has been a joy to taste hundreds of wines each year and be amazed at the results that blind-tastings tend to produce. They have certainly helped me evaluate wines for my restaurants’ wine lists.”
The sparkling 2019 India Wine Awards night ended on a high note, bringing to culmination, a year-long process to recognise the best available wines, as well as the best places to drink wine in the country.