Before I commence with my discourse on the wine tasting festival and how wonderful it was, let me take a moment to confess that before we actually embarked upon this place called Rohi Villa Palace, Lane number 7 in Koregaon Park, Pune, I had second thoughts about even attending the said festival. Reasons varying from treading on a non-drinker-to-an-occasional drinker pathway to if the exorbitant price of Rs. 500 was even worth for simply wine tasting, to the big hole in my already depleting pocket (the fall-outs of student life after work!). All the reasons obviously did not withstand my thirst[pun intended ;)] for exploring as I lapped up another experience.

Wine tasting, traditionally has been associated with sensory appeal; taking in the delectable aromas, internalizing the texture and taste – sniff, sip, swirl. The 9th Pune Wine Tasting Festival hosted a range of wine stalls, from the vineyards of Nasik,to the Italian assortment – Reveilo, the largest exporter of Indian wine – Grover Zampa, the Myra vineyards’ Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz – its most popular and award winning wines. Rhythm winery offered a blend of orchard fresh strawberries and grapes. Oakwood vineyards, Rio, Casablanca and Soma Vine village among others, helping us select and savour.

As we got accustomed to the tradition and the 3Ss, we scouted our way from one stall to the next. Thoroughly confused about where to start, I chose my pick after much deliberation. It had to be the Alphonso wine, just the very thought of it being highly appealing, add to that the exotic twist to the wine courtesy the flavor. The aroma was particularly refreshing, of fresh, whole ripe mangoes. Next, we treated our palates with a fresh doze of strawberry, peach, and plum. The fruity flavors definitely stole the show for me. With the different variety of cheese on offer- smoked gouda, pepper cheddar, enchilado (made of goat’s milk), feta, mozzarella, Queso Blanco (origin: mexico), Parmesan – we drowned ourselves in the sinful yet eclectic mix of wine and cheese.

As we sat and savoured every sip, taking in the aromas and relishing the taste, also opining in turns, donning the wine connoisseur’s hat (if only) for a day! Meanwhile, the organizers on stage called for salsa dancers, and the non-dancers – all to shake a leg! Though we got late, grape stomping was an exciting prospect. A sprawl of stalls from handicraft to desserts like fruit cream @ Rs. 100 (I almost died without eating any!)shared the space in the lawns, like poor cousins of the wine and cheese. While our hungry selves carefully picked pizza, again highly priced for a meager portion – but then again beggars cannot be choosers. Digging into a piece each, we lamented over our fates as we picked up a live lesson in marketing – need is the necessity of all evil, including calories! 😉

We decided to hog more, and strolled by lane 7 in search for pocket-friendly eateries. Settling for a burger at the Burger House; alluring burgers at affordable prices, I was a mess with hands and mouth covered in sauce. Not a fan of burgers, I particularly enjoyed this one, more so for the sauce they used – tangy and yummy, my mouth was a mix of interesting flavors. As we wound up, we left again with glasses in hand, to the venue where wine festival was on.

At 9 p.m.the place looked dead, as the numbers now dwindled. Not surprising though, as the close time was 10 p.m. Being a firm believer in keeping your circle small, and your beer (wine in this case) cold, I particularly enjoyed my ambiance more so at this time with lesser people around. I always somehow warm up to small, cosy gatherings.

As the stall owners were packing up, and last of the bands performed, we approached last of the wine stalls for a click. What came later not only surprised us but gave us fun-filled memories. We made a friend with the owner Ralph from Rio wines who was more than willing to share the pictures he clicked, only on the condition that you pinged him. “Nice way to get your number, right”, he joked. And while us girls were recovering from the after-effects of what he just said, my dear male friend bemused “Sweet guy, no?” Henceforth, there was no looking back. The number of times we pulled his leg is commensurate to the times we laughed, joked and tripped over the incident, several times over. And just as I sign off, I am reminded of how we have tried orchestrating the prank of pinging Ralph from his number… One fine day, we shall succeed. This world’s a funny place and sometimes, you just have to find the right partners in crime!! This was my trippy story.. What’s yours?