The Industry Should Focus on Wine Education, Says Sonal Holland

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Master of Wine Sonal Holland stresses on the importance of formal wine education for Food and Beverage professionals through forums such as WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).
  • SARA KHAN Feature Editor
Sonal Holland Restaurant India

Sonal Holland MW, while speaking at India Wine summit 2019, stressed upon the importance of formal wine education for F&B professionals through forums such as WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust). Sonal called wine training an ‘investment’. “It’s an investment that pays. When people are better informed, they will perform well,” she said.

“WSET did a survey of businesses on employee training. The findings of the survey show that 100% of businesses believe training has helped in better job performance. 93% of these said that it led to employee satisfaction and over 90% of these businesses said that training led to more profitability. This is the global scenario. On the home turf, there is an increase in the enthusiasm among restaurateurs and wine traders on training but still, many of them have a reluctance to spend. As a result, there tends to be an over-reliance on the producers and suppliers to provide such training,” Sonal said.

“The general thought of the industry is that if I train my employees, it will affect them negatively in the turnover which is contrary to the global survey,” she further added.

Speaking on wine education among Indian consumers, she said, “I have come across many people who would not know much about wine except red and white.” She noticed that, initially, people were ready to spend more money on single malts. “We have to look beyond, and see who the target audience is. As the ambassadors of the wine trade and custodians of the wine culture, we need to make our consumers better informed. We need to be better equipped. We need to get that effortlessness in the wine culture. Right now, we are too conscious as we are putting too much effort in promoting wine in our country rather than educating people about it.”

In addition, wine connoisseur Madhulika Bhattacharya, was of the opinion that knowledge of wine at the very basic level is a must for consumers at the grass root level in India, like what it is in France, where Tristan De Lomenie said, “Wine is such an integral part of culture and lifestyle, that formal wine education can be fairly redundant.”

The India Wine Summit concluded successfully on a wine-drenched note recently at The Pullman, Aerocity. The theme of the summit was The Game Changer and the event took the audience through three back-to-back Industry Round Table sessions with illustrious names from the wine producing industry, F&B professionals, wine importers and promoters.

The Industry Round Table III emphasized on the industry-government interface and the regulatory challenges for the Indian wine sector. The opening address for this session was delivered by Yatin Patil, President, All India Wine Producers Association (IWPA). Yatin spoke about the challenges faced by producers in India since as early as 1949. Other panellists consisting of Rahul Singh, Aman Dhall, Arun Kumar, and Uma Chigurupati were mostly united in expressing a few key concerns such as non-uniformity of excise/tax laws need to de-link the wine business from alcohol and spirits’ business; need for FSSAI standardization; support from the government on issues such as online wine sales;and increased levels of support from the FSSAI for small, independent producers.

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