There was a time when wine was considered to be a snob’s drink in India with far too many nuances to appreciating it – the twirling, the sniffing, and then the sipping. Over the years, this belief has changed and luckily now we see a whole lot of Indians preferring wine to other drinks, being able to differentiate between the many varietals, shaking up bubbly cocktails at home, pairing them with food, and so on and so forth. I think amongst many helpful factors, the credit also goes to those Indian winemakers who dared to produce wine in the country in an attempt to popularise the drink. And one such man is Ajay Shetty, CEO of Myra Vineyards.
It is always a pleasure to meet individuals who are so deeply passionate about what they do. Ajay may not have imagined that he would grow up to start his own wine brand, but now having walked this unconventional path he is convinced that this was what he was meant to do. The enthusiastic wine lover and a former investment banker decided to quit his corporate life to give shape to a dream. December 2011, is when it did become a reality.
“It is never easy when you set out to do something different. But I am lucky I had the support of my family. I knew I had to find few key people who were as passionate about wine as I am to make it all happen. So I got on board Nikhil Agarwal, a veteran sommelier with over a decade’s worth of international experience in the industry and is now the Chief Advisor and Wine Consultant of Myra, and Winemaker, Rajesh Rasal, who considers wine as an art form and has over ten years of experience in the field. The objective was simple: to produce quality wine in the country at competitive prices and also educate the people about the drink,” says Ajay.
Passion, as we know it, is what drives one to step out of comfort zones and do the unthinkable. Ajay’s interest for wine started during his stint in Hong Kong and US where he gained a good insight to various types of wines. It had him hooked, each varietal distinct in flavour, bouquet, and mouthfeel. And soon he started paring them with varied cuisines across the globe to get to learn them better. And in the process, it dawned on him that starting his own wine brand would be the next best thing.
Myra, meaning peacock in Tulu, the native language of Mangalore, produces four varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Currently the wines are available in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa and will shortly be launching in Pondicherry and Delhi. They will soon be introducing a light wine especially for the youth at a very competitive price.
“We want more and more people to pick wine as their favoured drink. And to make this happen, it is necessary to make them learn about the many varietals, make the wines easily available and affordable, and establish a platform to draw people’s interests,” says Ajay.
Pairing food and wine is one of the best ways to understand and learn about the varietals. Though Ajay feels that people shouldn’t get intimidated with the expert suggestions and be experimental and decide for themselves what suits their taste. “Wine doesn’t have to be complicated. I would advise young drinkers to go all out and experiment. That is how I discovered that biryani and Chenin Blanc go so well together.”
I would say that I enjoy paring red wine and chocolate desserts.
The wines are priced at 330 INR for entry level, and goes up to 800 INR. They are available at most leading liquor stores.