Mumbai-based sommelier, Vaniitha Jaiin, launched her bespoke firm, The Perfect Pour in 2013, and specializes in wine, spirits and lifestyle consultation.
Anyone can enjoy a glass of wine, across vintage and choice of grape, but not everyone knows how to appreciate its truest delights. Vaniitha Jaiin, a dedicated wine and spirits aficionado is passionate about teaching people this subtle art. This Mumbai-based sommelier launched her bespoke firm The Perfect Pour in 2013, and specializes in Wine, Spirits and Lifestyle Consultation.
“I have always been an enthusiast, so I decided to marry my passion for wines and spirits with my entrepreneurial dream and launched The Perfect Pour. It is the first-of-its-kind consultant platform to demystify the world of wines and spirits and help people truly understand and appreciate their drink,” she explains with pride.
Jaiin has a unique approach towards alcoholic beverages that works on evoking a sense of curiosity in the drinker. With time, she has established herself as a consultant to restaurants, hotels, importers, corporates, lifestyle brands, media networks and ultra-high net worth individuals looking for help in buying their wine and spirits, seeking educational training in the field, searching for bespoke experiences in this sphere, or simply in need of guidance for their portfolio strategy as importers. She also helps with brand management, curation of food and beverage programs and curates drink menus as per occasion.
However, before she took this up professionally, she was a marketing and communications professional and had served in various leadership roles at Flipkart, Ogilvy India, Mahindra Satyam, and Adecco India to name a few. After an MBA from The Times School of Marketing in Delhi, she studied wines and spirits at the prestigious Wines & Spirits Education Trust in London, UK and pursued a luxury brand management course at Essec Business School in Paris, France. The completion of her formal training led her to travel through the wine and spirits havens of Europe such as France, Italy, and Hungary.
When asked if it was difficult for her to break into the field of alcohol in India, she answers with a resounding yes. “In India, the alcohol industry is dominated by men. Further, alcohol is taboo in my community of Jains, so my journey was not a rosy one. I had to face a lot of societal critique, but no one could come in the way of my passion and the conviction I had. I have always believed that I am here to solve a problem and to help people demystify and appreciate the art and science behind these beverages,” she says pragmatically.
Born into a family of cloth merchants in Ambasamudram in Tamil Nadu, Jaiin lost her father at a young age and decided to take charge of her life. In the process, she has broken many stereotypes – from selling clothes to families and friends from the age of 13 to becoming an insurance agent prodigy as the youngest star performer at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance at the age of 19. Till date, she continues on this unconventional path by being the torch bearer of wine and spirits in India.
Her success in the field is evident from the fact that she has collaborated with global alcohol behemoth Beam Suntory on several occasions. Even during the pandemic, she curated an experience for the company with Roku Gin from the House of Suntory in Japan. For the event, she used the six botanicals which go into making Roku Gin over a period of four seasons and curated an exclusive menu that brought this sensory experience to life for India’s top tastemakers, the likes of which included Harsh Mariwala, and Harsh Goenka, among others.
With more people entering this field in India, things are changing significantly. This is evident from the sheer number of high-quality hand-crafted brands of alcoholic beverages available in India today. “Indian alcoholic beverages are not only winning hearts in India, but they are also winning awards on global platforms. The alco-bev industry is growing every day as millennials enjoy exploring new varietals and brands and have learnt to appreciate what they drink. Due to globalization, this generation is aware of the variety of drinks available and enjoy following and indulging in their passion,” she shares.
It is also now possible for people to train as specialists in this field in India, as a number of institutes provide WSET courses around the country. Jaiin too started out in India before heading to WSET London for higher studies and certifications. Her international exposure took her places. She is one of few Indians in this space to have represented the country as a judge and participant at international wine events like Wine & Culinary International Forum in Spain in 2016 and twice at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, a ‘World Wine Championship’. Jaiin has also been invited twice to the International Wine Challenge held at the iconic Oval Cricket Ground in London. She explains, “This prestigious challenge is limited to a select set of wine experts who have a mature palate including sommeliers, masters, vineyard owners, merchants and other passionate individuals. Being invited to the event is quite a feat in the world of wine.”
Jaiin has also curated an epicurean evening for the ‘Rendezvous’ series held by The Taj Chambers in 2021, and has worked with brands like Four Seasons Hotels as their brand Ambassador and partner for the Four Seasons Wine program, Jodhpur Gin from Spain, Buffalo Trace Whiskey by Sazerac, USA, Oaksmith Whisky and Bowmore Single Malt by Beam Suntory, India, Toki Whisky and Roku Gin by the House of Suntory, Japan, Glenfiddich Single Malt by William Grant and Sons, and Jacobs Creek by Pernod Ricard among others.
Speaking about India’s alcohol production, Jaiin shares with candour, “As the perception of ‘craft’ produce in India changes, more homegrown alco-bev brands are planting their flag. A gin revolution is ongoing, and Indian whiskies have already reached international standards of quality with the potential for further growth being enormous. More distilleries are now being planned in India, and our manufacturers have changed the perception that the best whisky comes from Scotland. Amrut distilleries, for example, was the first company to launch an Indian single malt whisky in the UK in 2004. It now has some 30 whisky expressions in its portfolio. Currently, three Indian whisky brands are quite popular in the USA – Paul John, Amrut and Rampur. According to Forbes, these three brands dominate the imported whisky section in the American market, as each one has beautiful flavours and brings distinct characteristics to the table.”
The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on [email protected]