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By Isheeta Gupta, Class of 2005

 

People always want to know what makes my skin glow. It's easy...all it takes is Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet and a chunk of Camembert.

 

We all need something to make our lives more exciting –something that we are passionate about that allows us to express ourselves creatively. If you haven’t found one already, it’s never too late to find something new to learn because age doesn't matter unless you're a wine! It can be anything that tickles your fancy. For me, I found one that tickles my palate. There is nothing I enjoy more at the end of the day than drinking good wine and come winter, the quintessential combination of wine and cheese.

 

Fortunately for me, ambition and passion came together in the business of wine. After my first job at a tobacco company, I decided to join my father to help him set up his wine company. When I started out in the wine business, I knew nothing of wine (except for all the wine I’d knocked off my parents bar when they were away!!!). It took a lot of reading and tasting to figure out what’s going on.

 

There were days at the beginning when I found many customers egoistic and trying as they kept you waiting.  It meant learning people skills in dealing with this diverse group of customers. It also meant acquiring knowledge of the complex web of red tape that confounds Business in India. Starting a business involves everything from designing websites, strategising, financial planning and implementation, which is quite a diverse set of skills unlike a compartmented job in a multinational.

 

My MBA coupled with my work experience has helped me greatly to learn how to address problems and their solutions in a logical and systematic way and has given me the confidence to do business.

 

 

 

Today, after more than 3 years in the wine business helping my father set up his company, I am now in the process of setting up my wine consultancy business.  When I look back at my trajectory- an undergraduate degree in English literature and an MBA is marketing and finance-I would never have thought I’d be doing what I am today. I can only say that it’s been a blessing!

 

Research no longer means market research surveys, worrying about qualitative and quantitative research. For me, it means reading and more importantly tasting. Trade fairs are opportunities for people to showcase wine. Business trips mean travelling to vineyards and tasting and evaluating the wonderful things the world of wine has to offer. And what’s more, a trip to Italy or France means I get to explore the world of cheeses from parmesan and Grand Padano to my favourite soft, stinky ones like Camembert, Brie de Meaux and Rocquefort.

 

And studying has a totally new meaning. Alongside my French language course, I’m currently pursuing a formal qualification in wine and spirits which requires that I know about every wine/spirit region, wine variety and style. Not to leave out the best part – what they taste like! Before this sounds like a drunkards business to you, let me explain that we don’t drink at tastings, we taste and spit (at least till the end of the day when you can happily enjoy a glass).

 

One of the most important things I’ve learnt is that wine is personal – either you like it or you don’t! You can’t drink something because you think it’s cool or it’s the most expensive estate and you want to be seen drinking it. So drink what you like, not what others do.
So if you’re looking to start appreciating wine, here are some pointers to help you along:

 

Be confident enough to order what you like and adventurous enough to experience what you haven’t tried.

 

Hold the glass from the stem. If you hold the glass from the stem, it prevents the heat from your hands from affecting the wine because wines are very susceptible to changes in temperatures.

 

Fill your glass but only halfway.

 

Swirl the glass around a little in a circular motion to reveal its bouquet. Make sure you don't get over enthusiastic and spill it. A wine needs to breathe and by swirling the glass you are adding air to it and releasing its aromas. Aromas also contribute to flavour since about 70% of taste is based on smell.

 

Take a good whiff of the aromas emanating from the wine. Take time to savour the fragrance.

 

Now take a tiny sip from the glass and roll the wine on your tongue. Don’t swallow it just yet.  Taste the flavours, feel the wine.

 

And now you are free to enjoy the rest of your glass as you please. Just keep in mind that wine is sipped, not gulped!

 

Having said that, take it easy because "Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them and Champagne makes you do them."

 

Santé.

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