Pooja Patel

The extended lockdown till May 3 though necessary, may prove to be tough for many, as spending time indoors can be challenging. Sonal Holland, the only Master of Wines in India talks about how she is keeping herself busy and which French wine is helping her beat the blues.
Which wine are you drinking these days? 
I am uncorking different wines from my wine cellar, which I have collected during my travels to various wine regions over the last couple of years. Earlier this week, I opened a gorgeous 10-year-old Barolo from Vietti, one of the finest producers in Piedmont, Italy. I also shared with my husband, a lovely bottle of Volnay Premier Cru from Domaine Tawse, Burgundy. And of course, plenty of other wines from my recent trips to Bordeaux in France, and Australia. Not to mention, some saké from Japan too!
Can you suggest three food items, which pair well with red wine and white wine?
Cheese is easy to find or something that most people stock up on at all times. Softer cheeses with a creamier texture like Brie, Taleggio and Camembert work better with crisp white wines; whereas, harder cheeses like Parmigiana, Gouda, and Grana Padano work better with bold red wines. One tip is that foods which are predominantly salty or sour in taste, enhance flavours, making the wines taste richer, fruitier and smoother than they actually are. So even simple go-to snacks such as salted pretzels, salted nuts, cold cuts, olives, bruschetta, pizzas or even French fries sprinkled with salt would work really well with both white and red wines.
Read more: Want to know what Master of Wine Sonal Holland thinks of the Indian wine industry? Click here to read.  
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Please share a simple and easy cocktail/mocktail recipe.
Take 100 ml red wine in a crystal stemmed wine glass, top it up with another 50ml red wine and garnish with 20 ml of the same wine. Drink cool. Sorry, I don’t enjoy cocktails and certainly not mocktails!
Which restaurant would you head to after the lockdown?
To be honest, I have a great live-in cook who has been spoiling us with really delicious food at home. Lunch is relatively simple, but dinners include roasts, stews, curries and grilled foods, with Indian, Thai, Chinese and British flavours. I guess I am going to head for a Japanese meal once this lockdown is over; either to Wasabi by Morimoto at the Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai or Izumi in Bandra.
Once travel bans are called off, which vineyard would you like to go to?  
I have had to cancel a lot of travel plans due to the pandemic. Sadly, I have also had to regret near-future opportunities to travel to Russia and Portugal, for a wine event. Frankly, I am going to wait and watch before I confirm any travel plans. I am incredibly grateful that opportunities to travel are plenty in my profession, so I am not in a rush to decide where to go. I was fortunate enough to visit vineyards in Rioja, Bordeaux, California and Champagne last year.
What are you reading these days? Any book(s) that you would like to suggest to our readers?
I have just finished reading 52 Red Pills: A New-Age Playbook to Become Healthy, Wealthy and Wise by Eika and Siddharth Banerjee; it’s a new-age playbook that advises in 52 crisp chapters on how to become healthy, wealthy and wise.
Which Netflix series have you enjoyed watching? Any recommendations?
I know this sounds crazy, but I don’t watch nearly as much Netflix as most people do. I stick to watching the shows that are highly recommended. I started watching the series SHE last evening and so far, it has my rasp attention. A stand-up comedy show I watched last week was Ladies Up and the first stand-up comedian, Prashasti (Singh) had me in splits! It’s great to see women doing bold and raunchy comedy, unapologetically.
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Who is that one person you are waiting to meet?
Definitely my mom. She is all by herself right now coping with isolation.
How will the pandemic affect luxury consumption in India and the world? 
Post the lockdown, people are likely to experience a huge sense of relief. They may still refrain from travelling outright, however, activity within the city will increase as people seek their new-found freedom in movement. People will also seek to reward themselves over the next few months. This may cause consumer spending on luxury items such as clothing and accessories to increase. The fact that people will most likely not travel out for summer vacations, will further allow them, disposable money to spend on lifestyle goods.
Habits such as increased internet streaming will remain with people even post lockdown. Hence, online purchases may see a spike. People will reach out for more affordable luxury rather than downright very expensive items as they will want to demonstrate liberation through desirable purchases, but not stupidity by ostentatious spending. Cars, fine jewellery, expensive holiday packages will be a tough sell.
MW Sonal Holland
For the wine industry, there is likely to be a shift towards home consumption rather than drinking at luxury hotels and restaurants, where alco-beverages are often unreasonably marked up. People will prefer to host smaller gatherings at home compared to the large-party formats. This will most likely spur retail sales of wines, at the cost of sales at hotels and restaurants. At the retail level, wines at affordable price-points may see a spike in sales; however, sales of mid-tier and premium wines may taper off beyond the initial flurry. Indian wines have a real opportunity to market their premium wines and gain market share against cheap, imported wines at comparable points. Clever digital marketing programs by all stakeholders of the wine industry will be the name of the game.