On an oppressively-muggy Mumbai night, on 22 April, 11 women congregated in an air-conditioned refuge called The Wine Rack, unwound over a blind tasting session, and played an unwitting role in stirring India’s wine industry from its slumber.
The Wine Rack is Mumbai’s biggest wine bar, with floor-to-ceiling racks of 300-plus wines from 45 countries. Fourteen of its 21-page bar menu is dedicated to vino. The ambience, with distressed walls and mood lighting, is ‘aspirational-chic’, a breed of millennial-frequented establishments that have spread across the city’s former mill lands like a gentrification fungus. Places like these infused new life in beer and gin. They may also rip the straitjacket off of wine’s image.
And so it was in The Wine Rack that the 11 overwhelmingly-millennial (23-38 years old) women described three unidentified red wines in ways that’d make purists keel:
“Number one was like a bad boyfriend.”
“The first is like a good date. Two is philosophical. Three is a friend.”
“The second one was mysterious, but opened up slowly.”
“Really? It left a bad taste in my mouth. Like my ex [peals of laughter].”
“I’d say wine number three is fun, flirty, and forgiving…”
“Wait, how can wine be forgiving?”