Subhash Arora is a noted prolific wine writer, author, journalist, international judge, speaker, consultant, educator and a wine club promoter. Subhash is an electrical engineer from IIT Delhi. After working in Germany for a year, he went on to the US and completed his MSIE and MBA from the University of Minnesota. In this exclusive interview with the acadman.in has shared his experiences.
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You studied electrical engineering at IIT Delhi, and then your interest shifted towards becoming a wine Connoisseur. What was the reason behind it?
It happened much later. I went to America. I did my MBA. I was still a teetotaler in America. When I came back I joined the export business where my partner insisted that I should have some alcoholic drink for social reasons but being a staunch teetotaler I denied it.
But later on we had so many foreign clients and we used to have dinner and party with them so my partner insisted that I must take something so I chose wine as the list of the evils, so that’s how I started drinking wine. Then I started to like it it was very good in taste and then I started to find out it was good for health and I came across several studies which showed that red wine was very good for health so that’s when I started studying on my own and started going out to vineyards of different countries so that’s how I got into wine.
Apart from wine, do you consume any other alcoholic beverages?
No, I only take wine. In fact, I have coined a term “vinotaler” which means a teetotaler who consumes wine.
In India, not many people go for this kind of professions. So how difficult was it for you and who guided you in all these years?
First of all, since it was my passion since I liked it myself I was not studying it to sit in exams or jobs, I was studying it on my own and then I was encouraged by some people outside India, my brother-in-law lives abroad is a very nice wine seller and I used to go there and taste wines I used to visit various wine shops in America, because I travel to America every year, at least in those days. Now I go less.
so I used to study and develop the knowledge on my own and I was in a Rotary Club where I made them start serving wine at various functions they were not serving earlier and when I left the club a few years ago almost everybody was drinking wine.
In India, there are a lot of taboos. and one such taboo is people avoid drinking alcohol. So, you started a wine club in India so how you managed to raise it from the grassroots level in such an atmosphere where such type of taboos prevails?
First of all, there was a taboo in my own family I belong from a very conservative family and when I started doing this person were shocked and they used to whisper – What has gone into his mind? Now he is drinking and talking about alcohol.
So then I tried to convince everybody and this is what I have been doing ever since I started the whole thing – wine is not alcohol. Of course, there is natural alcohol, the fruit alcohol in it.
So the Wine Club when I started… I had a talk in Rotary Club, where I was President earlier…So, I said you can ask me any question on wine and till that time I was reading. So, I was lucky to answer all the questions.
So, I thought maybe I should start a wine club where we will drink wine and where we will talk about wine, etc. etc.
Then I started in 2002 and what helped me was…there was someone new at the news channel Aaj Tak and she was very fascinated about the wine club and she did the full show on it which helped the club a lot and it made people start thinking about wine.
Here is a lot of hue and cry about banning alcohol in our country? Should it be banned?
I do not disagree with that at all. I am an anti-alcoholic person. And I think alcohol has a lot of problems and people must be aware of that and people must be able to control but wine is not like that. wine is a fruit product. it comes from fruit and all you are doing is just fermenting the sugar in the grapes. So there is nothing unnatural about it.
I do not consider wine as alcohol or liquor and this is a big problem in India. People think that alcohol is bad and wine is bad. But I am saying alcohol is bad but wine is not alcohol.
Therefore one should not drink liquor but should drink wine and there is a condition that you should drink it in moderation do not take a bottle of wine and drink it all in one go because then you will become an alcoholic so you drink it in moderation and preferably after having food, drinking wine in moderation is good for health.
You started Indian Wine Academy. What it does actually?
Indian Wine Academy is basically a proprietary business concern. I named it Indian wine Academy because at that time I wanted to start courses sort of a formal program but since I started traveling a lot of people started Consulting me a lot so I had no time to give it a proper structure of a university or an Academy and I realise that it is difficult to run an Academy because again the wine laws, alcohol laws are such that to drink wine in an Institute becomes difficult, legally. So I didn’t want to get into the hassle.
so I started writing about Vines and visiting wineries I got invitations for wine shows and programs from people abroad, wine appreciation evenings, training restaurant staffs, people started consulting me, making wine list….so I got involved in those things. and the Idea was that people should be aware of wine.
Today, Indian wine Academy has a newsletter which is called Dell wine and we have just sent 700+ newsletters yesterday and each edition has a lot of information. it is an India centric thing because my objective was also to promote Indian wine and promote India. so everything that is happening in the Indian industry it is all on the website and I am focusing all that all the time And I write different articles.
What are the delicacies in becoming a wine Conna sour? Is it something which a person has in him naturally or it comes with experience?
Well, it can be natural as well because I know some people who have much less experience than me but yet they are better tasters.
But you can be trained also to differentiate the wines. If you do an MBA it gives you a tool for management but that does not mean that you cannot manage without an MBA degree. It is as simple as that.
Which is your favorite wine? And which one is the best wine in India?
Indian wines have improved a lot in the last five years. Before that you had very fewer options there was Grover La reserve red wine was good.
But now many new wines have come in the market some of them are really bad but some of them are good too, especially the smaller wineries.
So every winery produces some good wines and some bad wines, that is why it is difficult which is the best wine although
I would say that KRSMA in Karnataka makes excellent wines and Charosa in Maharashtra also make some good wines. I would say that there are at least 10 good wines in India.
What would be your message to students who are willing to become wine Connoisseur like you?
First of all the tasting is very important, you have to taste as much wine as you can, I myself probably have tasted more twenty-five thousand wines, which is nothing if compared to the international standard, and try to memorize various aspects of the wine that you have tasted. Second things are you have read a lot about wines.