Delhi Wine Tasting Club© Delhi Wine Tasting Club

What Goes On Inside An All-Women’s Wine Club In Delhi?

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Neeva Jain

This New Delhi-based all-women’s wine club has emerged as a compelling destination for those eager to assert their presence in this traditionally male-dominated domain. Inviting HELLO! into their gathering, members share their educated palettes, built a new community and hope to inspire other women out there as well.

A women-centric red wine club in India, you say? I say, “Yes, indeed!” You’ve come a long way, baby. Probably the first of its kind in India, and a trend most appealing. With this model, we hope to set a new standard. Through, this showcase, we aim to spark interest, ignite passion and galvanise a host of young, aspiring wine enthusiasts to establish similar ladies’ wine clubs all over the country. For “You are A Diva Indeed”, the “In Vino Veritas” manifesto champions a ‘Ladies Only Wine Club’ comprising a total of 17 women who’ve been meeting since last August.

All are phenomenally successful, vibrant, brilliant and dedicated to their respective areas of expertise, hailing from diverse walks of life. Each brings a unique skill set and a distinctive, bold approach, united in their mission to educate, gain knowledge and appreciate the aroma of the finest red wines popular worldwide. They delve deep into this arena, embracing its historical significance. Yes, it’s serious; yes, it has an intellectual edge and focused intonation. It’s not just a social forum; it’s about a profound exploration into the world of wine.

A well-known sommelier from India joins us each time to discuss a grape, a region, a bottle, and the many reasons for its popularity. Wine connoisseurs are intensely passionate about their vinos, so let’s not mock or belittle the significance of the red wine arena and everything it encompasses globally.

Delhi Wines Club©Delhi Wines Club

Sipping And Sharing

Seema Kilachand, Director of Legends League Cricket, who deeply loves red wine, joined the club to explore her passion further. “While I already have some knowledge about red wine and often travel to Italy to learn about the grapes from different regions, being a part of this club allows me to refine my wine-tasting skills and gain valuable insights directly from fellow women enthusiasts,” she says.

Dr Archana Nayar, the founder of the Autism Centre for Excellence seeks a fresh perspective in this historically male-dominated realm. “Wine clubs are often led by men, given their extensive exposure or experience with wine. I thought it would be interesting to be part of a club where women can explore and deepen their knowledge of wine,” she notes. An enthusiastic wine drinker for many years, Dr Archana has visited numerous vineyards and enjoys tasting various wines.

For some members, the club serves as a deep dive into the world of wine, while for others, it’s a journey from the start. Anjali Chawla of BPTP has immersed herself in the finer aspects of wine tasting, dinners and menu creations since her family’s real estate company ventured into hospitality. They are now developing world-class clubs with seven-star amenities where food, beverages and wines play a pivotal role. “I am a member of various clubs globally, and I want to gain the right exposure, imbibe, and bring these experiences back home to enhance the offerings for our members,” she shares.

Anjali appreciates her girl gang, who are eager to share their knowledge and passion. “The group is open and non-judgmental; as a beginner and seeker, I sometimes ask questions that may seem irrelevant, but they are always taken in the right spirit,” she says, candidly.

Ameeta Seth, Director, Cingari, exclusive distributor for Habanos Cigars in India for the last 25 years, agrees. “I had a rudimentary knowledge of red wine before joining this club but it is such a vast and fascinating topic so I look forward to learning much more from the great sommeliers our group has been inviting to speak,” she shares.

Delhi Wines Club©Delhi Wine Tasting Club

From Grapes To Growth

All members of Vino Veritas cherish the opportunity to share insights and experiences with like-minded women in a relaxed setting, seeing it as invaluable for personal and professional growth. “Being part of a diverse group of women allows us to broaden our horizons. Bonding over wine is also a great experience in itself, as we learn something new with each gathering while also enjoying each other’s company and exploring a variety of wines,” Dr Archana says.

Yamini Jaipuria, a dedicated philanthropist and strategic leader, has consistently worked towards empowering and uplifting women through her roles at foundations like Zigly and Cosmo and her previous position at General Electric Company. Joining a women-only club “provides a space where I can continue to champion female empowerment while indulging in my passion for wine,” she notes, highlighting how it has deepened her understanding and appreciation for various wine varieties, flavours and pairings.

Anita Bajaj also emphasises the importance of building a community of women who support, learn from and care for each other. “I was thrilled when a friend suggested I join a monthly ladies’ wine club. Having spent most of my formative years in Paris and Rome — both renowned for their excellent red wines — I was already well-acquainted with the vino lifestyle,” she shares. With a career at the United Nations, she has explored vineyards globally and in India during short holidays over the years.

Matisha Kothari too has explored wine regions around the world, including Bordeaux, Piedimonte (Italy), Franschhoek (South Africa), Coonawarra (Australia), Martinborough (New Zealand) and Tuscany, during holidays centred around the local wines. For her, wine is more than just a beverage; it’s a storyteller that reflects the history, soil, climate, food, and culture of regions and their people over centuries. “By learning about wine, one can gain insights into different cultures and regions, which can influence future vacations and enhance overall appreciation for the drink,” says the architect from Kothari & Associates.

A staple on dining tables in Western parts of the world, India’s appreciation for red wine has surged over the past few decades, with improved accessibility to quality options. “Earlier we used to have to cart it in from abroad,” Ameeta reminisces. There’s also a growing awareness about proper wine care — the ideal storage temperature and the right decanting time — a practice the Vino Veritas group aims to promote further.

Delhi Womens Wine Tasting Club©Delhi Womens Wine Tasting Club

Perfect Pairings

“Wine has always been intertwined with conversations and culture,” observes Puja Bhargava, CEO of Bishesh Exports and founder-designer, of Indres. “Over the last decade, the culture around red wines in India has transformed dramatically.” Puja, alongside her husband Tarun, a dedicated wine researcher, enthusiast and collector, has developed a deep appreciation for fine wines. “We’ve noticed a growing curiosity about grape varieties, food pairings and exploring wines from diverse regions,” she adds.

In fact, at the recent club gathering HELLO! Attended, what took centre stage was the pairing of gourmet cuisine with authentic Thai dishes by India’s very own Nigella Lawson, our Spicy Rika.

Yamini, our elegant, warm and glamorous hostess with the most, paired the exquisite Pinot Noir grape from France our famed sommelier Gagandeep had selected with catering by Chef Spicy Rika, a culinary trailblazer in authentic Thai cuisine.

Rekha Arora, who has taken Northern India by storm, built her renowned brand, Spicy Rika, from scratch, offering unparalleled, delicious Spicy Rika, from scratch, offering unparalleled, delicious and dazzling Thai dishes with catchy names attached to them. This Thai cuisine could rival Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide.

“As I indulge in the exquisite dishes, adorned with vibrant colours and intricate details, I’m reminded that the presentation of food is an art form. I’m reminded that the presentation of food is an art form. Spicy Rika’s Culinary creations not only tantalise the taste buds but also stimulate visual senses, echoing the essence of my approach to style – a multisensory experience setting the mood and enhancing overall enjoyment,” says Rekha.

The evening flowed spectacularly, showcasing camaraderie, possibilities, knowledge, value and the bonds that uplift womanhood. As Anjali says, “Turning 50 now, I find that nothing compares to the joy of old wine and old friends. Creating memorable experiences with them gives me the same high as enjoying an aged vintage wine.”

Delhi Wine Tasting Club©Delhi Wine Tasting Club

(Photos: Anil Chawla; Creative Direction: Amber Tikari; Make-Up& Hair: Colorbar)

This story has been adapted for the website from HELLO! India’s May 2024 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!