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Mumbai: This new wine cellar in Malabar Hill offers tavern-like shopping experience

Updated on: 13 December,2022 11:07 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sukanya Datta |

A new cellar in Malabar Hill offers a tavern-like shopping experience for the well-heeled SoBoite

Mumbai: This new wine cellar in Malabar Hill offers tavern-like shopping experience

The cellar stocks approximately 1,000 bottles. Pics/Ashish Raje

The wine hills of Saint-Émilion, on the eastern side of Bordeaux, France, might be miles away, but its steep cobbled alleys find an echo in Malabar Hill. A quiet sloping bylane off Walkeshwar Road, reminiscent of frames from hill station vacations, catches us off-guard. There, nestled behind a stone-walled façade, stands Les Bouchons, a new wine cellar helmed by wine expert Sanjay Menon, who was inspired by the French village. 

For Menon, who has been importing and distributing fine wines in India for nearly two decades, the 900-sq ft store and experience centre marks his foray into the retail space. “People sitting at home during the pandemic wanted to drink better, and they would reach out to us,” he recalls, adding, “So, we thought, ‘Why not do our own retail?’ I prefer to focus on engaging with the consumer to help them understand wines better.”

The cellar houses a space for wine tasting experiences
The cellar houses a space for wine tasting experiences

Menon guides us through the cosy cavern-esque section that stocks wine accessories such as decanters, glasses and books. Designed by Zameer Basrai of The Busride Design Studio, the room features a cool marble table, much like a tavern. The movable tables, tucked into the wooden walls, can be cobbled together for wine tasting sessions that Menon hopes to host. There’s also a small kitchen tucked behind one of the doors that bear wine bottle accents. A small passage leads us into the circular cellar dotted with around 1,000 bottles, ranging between Rs 1,800 and Rs 82,000.

Sanjay Menon
Sanjay Menon

From Argentina to Italy, we spot labels representing 14 countries, most of which are rare, notes Menon. The wine educator and his team will offer guidance to tipplers on zeroing in on the kind of wine they can take home. Tasting, however, is limited to pre-booking, much to our disappointment, as it requires a day excise licence. Before he goes on to teach us to swirl our glass of La Vieille Ferme  from the Southern Rhône valley, he shares his three-point mantra to sort through the wide collection. “Budget, occasion and what you are serving the drink with. Wines roll alongside food. On a basic level, its role is to aid the digestive process, and at an esoteric level, to elevate the dining experience,” he reveals. 

A storehouse of such tips, Menon plans to be at the space once a week, so that enthusiasts can have a more informed experience. We imagine it’ll be quite the draw for tony SoBoites from neighbouring Peddar Road and Breach Candy. For suburban drinkers, though, the long commute might be a whine. 

Les Bouchons
At: Lower ground floor, White House, 91, Walkeshwar Road; 12 pm to 10 pm
Call: 35537462

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