A chemical engineer by education, Abhay’s career started in 1984 with Champagne India Ltd., a 100 per cent export oriented unit making sparkling wines in India, in collaboration with Champagne Piper Heidsieck, France. He has come full circle since then, and today is the Managing Director of his own import company, Tetrad Global Beverages Pvt Ltd., with pan India distribution. Edited excerpts...
You started in the wine industry right out of engineering college, which is certainly not a conducive environment for cultivating a palate for refined beverages. How big of a cultural shock was the first year, as you were learning about the industry; and what lessons did you take away from that experience?
I had the requisite background knowledge in terms of the fermentation process, etc. But I had probably tasted good quality wine only once, before I decided to pursue winemaking as a career. That too was champagne, and my first impression was, that the drink was too acidic.
Wines available those days were mostly Golkonda and Bosca, which were too sweet and not palatable for me. So, the first three months were very critical for me to discover whether I can enjoy wines, and whether I am able to differentiate between them. Fortunately, I could and within three months of joining I was sent to France for my first training, which lasted for six months.
My first lesson was, that one should always be ready for challenges, keep an open mind and give in their 100 per cent once they take a decision.
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