Tag Archives: Nikhil Agarwal

Mid Day – Grape Jury

Mid-day (Daily Dossier), Page no. 04, August 29, 2017

 

When he isn’t sharing reccos on the perfect wine-and-food pairings, sommelier Nikhil Agarwal is busy judging wine competitions on the international stage. After judging a wine event in Frankfurt early this year, Agarwal will be off to Hong Kong next week, where he is part of a global jury panel for the sixth edition of Decanter Asia Wine Awards. Considered the continent’s leading wine competition, it invites over 2,500 entries, including Indian labels. All go through a rigorous blind tasting by the jury. “Indian wines have done well in the past at this competition. However, I have no clue about the list this year. I’m looking forward to catching up with my colleagues in the wine industry from all over the world and trying a large number of wines in a blind tasting,” he shared.

Man’s World Magazine – 48 hours in Shanghai by Nikhil Agarwal

There’s something about modern cities in Asia that I thoroughly enjoy. There’s an infectious energy from the sheer number of people, and a beautiful mesh of traditional architecture, food and lifestyle, plus the best of western luxuries, brands, food and drink. Shanghai is no exception, and I have explored this massive city carefully over the last two years on two separate occasions. You can visit a ton of places over a two-day period (a lot of them are very close to each other) and getting around is incredibly easy, with every option of transport you can think of.

Training Day

From the airport, take the Maglev, the world’s fastest train, to the centre of town at speeds over 400 kilometres per hour for the thrill and convenience of it. It literally takes minutes, for a distance that is otherwise is an hour or so away from Pudong.

You can’t visit Shanghai and not visit the Bund. It overlooks the River Huangpu in the district of Pudong, with its sky-kissing, futuristic glass buildings, including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Jin Mao Tower (what the locals refer to as the bottle opener building) on one side and old colonial buildings on the other. Both sides are equally eye catching in exactly opposite ways. The river itself is full of activity, with floating restaurants, cruise and cargo ships, all slowly moving along this ancient waterway.

Mr. & Mrs. Bund

When at the Bund, you have to visit Shanghai’s most famous restaurant — Mr.& Mrs. Bund, by Paul Pairet. This restaurant offers incredibly delicious French food, great cocktails and a brilliant wine and spirit list with a view of Pudong to die for — a glass of wine on the terrace here is pure bliss.

Mr&Mrs Bund Interioir - Window Table Night View-resized

Interiors of Mr. & Mrs. Bund


Mr & Mrs Bund - Interior picture

Mr.& Mrs. Bund banquet


One floor above, on the terrace of the building, you have the Bar Rouge, which is a must-visit for some late night shenanigans. If you have the budget (approximately Rs 40,000 a head) you should definitely have the Ultraviolet experience. This restaurant is in a secret location and takes dining to a whole new level, using sounds, light and aromas to take you on a gastronomical journey like no other.

Food & Drink

Further down the road along the Bund is a high-end yet casual tapas bar called Unico, which I thoroughly loved. They have live music there and the food is delicious. I had the lobster with peanut oil, which has quickly become one of my favourite dishes of all time. I took a sip of their Malbec Cosmopolitan, which I thought was truly inventive, with a whole new take on how to enjoy Malbec.

Mr & Mrs Bund Food - Egg Mushrooms Duck Conift-resized

Egg mushrooms and duck confit


Not too far away, in an area called Xintiandi, you will be spoilt for choice. This area is a little touristy, I must warn you, but excellent nevertheless. Head for a beer at the Pauline Bauhaus, or have a glass of vino at the wine bar right next to it for some ‘lucky’ red wine. The Chinese believe that the colour red is lucky and have taken to their lucky red wines with some serious aggression, so much so that now, in a relatively small period of time, they have become the world’s largest consumers of red wine. But I digress. If you want some live jazz, head to the jazz bar slightly ahead, or visit The Devil’s Share, for a range of whiskies as you watch the world go by down below. Try the famed Xiao Long Bao at Crystal Jade, and try to not burn your tongue. Oh, and if you’re looking for some seriously good steak, there is a spanking new Wolfgang Puk restaurant bang in the middle of this area. Connected here is Nanjing Road, famous for its shopping and underground markets. For world class shopping, head to Huahai (also known as the Paris of the Orient) for your fix of fashion and designer labels.

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Truffle Bread


Mr & Mrs Bund Food - Black Cod Essential Soy-resized

Black Cod Essential Soy


Chilling It

An area definitely worth a visit is the French Concession. I found myself on a road called Yong Kang Lu, that is lined on either side with what seems like hundreds of small bars and restaurants, with residential apartments above them. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before. Go down there in the early evening for a very slow drink , especially over the weekend, and take in its almost Goa sort of vibe. This place seems to be off the tourist map and is visited by tons of expats and hipster locals, who ride the most fabulous modified scooters on the planet. Shanghai is a serious food and drink town and you can have great food anywhere — I particularly liked Din Tai Fung, a chain of value for money restaurants that are scattered all around Shanghai and the rest of Asia. If you’re the adventurous kind, try the many street food options, that include duck tongue, insects, bamboo shoots and a variety of pork-based dishes.

Kung Fu Panda

Alternatively, it does not all have to be about food and booze. I would highly recommend visiting the Yu Yuan Gardens, with old King Fu Panda movie-like structures. You could spend a lot of time here walking around or you could head to one of the many tea spots and get a glimpse of what China was like eons ago.

shutterstock_38700322-resized

Shanghai night life


Old Town Shanghai or Yu Yan Garden

Yu Yan garden


The City God temple is definitely worth a visit, and so is the Shanghai Museum for Fine Art Chinese Porcelain, if porcelain is your thing. The Urban Planning Centre shows Shanghai’s architectural plans in 3D for the next four years, and I would highly recommend a visit just to see the technology used here.

In Pudong, you could walk around the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and IFC Mall area and see swarms of people go from one place to another. The mall has a great number of restaurants on top, and some with terraces. You could sit there with your neck craned upwards and look at some of the world’s tallest structures around you.

All this, and I frankly haven’t even scratched the surface; I don’t think anyone could, even after living here for a year. I have to say that I love this city, and Shanghai has quickly become one of my favourite cities in Asia.

Man's World, July, 2016 issue, Page 48 Man's World, July, 2016 issue, Page 49 Man's World, July, 2016 issue

48 Hours In Shanghai

All Things Nice

ATN Logo with website high res - JPEG

All Things Nice or ATN is an Indian consultancy firm that specializes in luxury wine and spirits. All Things Nice was established in 2010 by Nikhil Agarwal and today has 262,000 members and organizes approximately 500 wine and spirit related experiences, annually. Based in Mumbai, the company works with large wineries, spirit and gourmet food companies, hotels and restaurants and large corporates.

Having diligently curated a rich list of corporates and consumers, All Things Nice plans to expand its portfolio to include Arts, Luxury Homes, Auto, Luxury Travel and Style.

Services: 

For Restaurants, Bars, Hotel Chains, Modern Retails Stores and Airlines

  • Menu Engineering
  • Staff Training
  • Marketing
  • Beverage Program

For Global Wine & Spirit Companies

  • On-ground marketing and sales support
  • Market Intelligence
  • Import, Distribution & Warehousing solutions
  • Events and Launches
  • Winery Setup
  • Training for F&B team

For Corporates using wine, spirits and food as a medium

  • Brand Launches
  • Client Engagement Programs
  • Client Acquisition Programs
  • Employee Engagement
  • Corporate Gifting
  • Private Wine Labels

For Consumers

  • Fine Dining Events
  • Single Malt Tastings/Dinner
  • Cognac Tastings
  • Wine Tastings/ Wine Dinners
  • Wine Festivals
  • Consumer Training
  • Private Tastings
  • Vineyard Trips
  • International Trade Fairs

‘How are Indian Wines perceived by other countries’- Food Hospitality World

Article from  Food Hospitality World magazine by Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal.

To even write an article with this heading gives you some indication just how far we have come in such a short period of time. I am and have been an ardent supporter of the Indian wine industry for many years now having started my own journey almost 15 years ago with Sula Vineyards. Before I left I was in charge of Sula’s export market so I have been watching Indian wines grow overseas for sometime.

For anyone paying attention, the revolution-taking place in the wine industry is visible for all to see. To fairly summarize what’s happening with Indian wine internationally we first must first look at what’s happening with the industry domestically.

Things are not the same as when I joined the industry 15 years ago. At that time there were only three relevant wineries  – Sula, Indage and Grovers. Three wineries do not make a market; as I remember Rajeev Samant stating that for the industry to grow we need to have more wineries with a focus on quality.

In the last seven odd years there has been a push on quality of wine due to many reasons. More wineries have been set up and therefore there is more competition. We now have a more aware consumer base that is getting to be more confident in judging a good wine from a bad one with conviction. They may not be aficionados or wine enthusiasts but are sure of what their likes or dislikes are without thinking that it’s them and not the wine which is the issue.

It’s only natural that quality a once abandoned virtue by now unsurprisingly defunct wineries is the buzz word of the handful of wineries looking to change things around.

Producers like Vallonne, a small winery with a mighty heart and an uncompromising stance of quality and Fratelli, with its deep pockets, business acumen and more importantly an understanding of wine making through its Italian partnership have created an array of quality wines in the midst of nowhere.

These wineries are now not only vying for consumer attention domestically but are aggressively looking at the international market.  This is an interesting time for Indian wine.

All Things Nice hosted a dinner in Hong Kong with Eddie Mcdougal who I met when Discovery Travel & Living filmed the Indian leg of The Flying Wine Maker. The feedback I got both before and after the dinner was astonishing. Before the guests tasted the wine they confided in me that there were curious but had absolutely no expectations that Indian wine was just as much as a puzzle to them as India was.

But when the wines were served they could not believe it. The wines from Grovers, Sula, Fratelli, Charosa, Myra and Vallonne were all appreciated so much that two of the wineries found themselves on their way into the markets of Hong Kong and China through an importer who attended the dinner.

The fact is that India is making good wine but we haven’t managed to make an industry of it as yet. Indian wine requires itself to make giant strides in the international market to be distinguished as a category. Yes Sula, Grovers and now Fratelli continue to increase their presence internationally but lots more needs to be done. More wineries need to be out there creating Brand India.

So while those in the know have looked at India’s burgeoning wine market and understand its quality levels, the everyday wine consumer internationally has little knowledge that India even makes wine. Within the trade internationally there is a buzz that is beginning to develop. For example I have been invited to Shanghai to speak about the Indian wine industry at SIAL in May 2015, while Fratelli has been chosen as a showcase project at Hannover Messe 2015 with their wines being the official wine at the Indian pavilion. Recently Rajeev Samant spoke at the Masters of Wine symposium. It takes time to build a brand and as you can see, the efforts are on.

You also don’t need to have the wines available internationally to understand what foreign palates prefer.  The number of people from all over the world coming to cities like Mumbai, Delhi/Gurgaon and Bangalore gives us enough of a pool to understand whether we measures up and the answer is yes because even our own Indian consumers who swear by the imported stuff wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell the difference between an Indian and imported in a blind tasting.

For an industry that did not exist more than 20 years ago to where we are today, the journey is quite impressive.  There is yet a long way to go and perhaps we should take this question up again in the next 5 years.  Perhaps we can be bolder and aggressive in our international approach collectively to get the ball rolling faster.

One thing is for sure, either we need to have one or two wineries that come up with break though quality that gets the worlds attention  (like what Yamazaki has done for the Japanese whisky profile) or we need to raise the game collectively through all relevant Indian wineries. Indian wineries are adding awards left right and centre at global wine competitions and since wine enthusiasts tend to be inclined on discovering new wines and new regions I predict that Indian wine will slowly seep into international consumer mindsets as time goes on as long as we play our cards right.

Nikhil Agarwal- Sommelier & CEO at All Things Nice

ATN- Nikhil Agarwal

All Things Nice has been conceptualized by Nikhil Agarwal, a trained Sommelier who received his degree in London. Nikhil won the Wine Australia scholarship in 2012 and in 2013 Wine Australia made him their A+ Wine Educator in India. He launched the first ever Indian Wine Consumers Choice Awards in 2012 and The All Things Nice Wine Week 2013. He was the Project Director of the Sommelier India Wine Competition, chaired by Steven Spurrier in 2009 &the  Indian Wine and Spirits Challenge in 2010. Prior to setting up All Things Nice, Nikhil launched the import division of Sula Vineyards, India’s most recognized wine brand. He has worked with LVMH, and was responsible for trade marketing at Diageo. Nikhil has been in the wine business for over 16 years and has hosted over 2000 wine events, festivals and training sessions over the last few years.

Nikhil is the Chief Advisor to Myra Vineyards which started in 2012. The operation involved extensive research, winery setup, bottling and branding, recruitment, marketing and distribution.

Nikhil has lent his written expertise to eminent publications like BBC Good Food, GQ,  Times of India, HT,  Femina, Elle, Mans World and Conde Nast Traveller, among others. The reputed Fortune India, Grazia, Man’s World, Blackbook Millionaire Asia, Time Out, The Entrepreneur & Bombay Times have also featured him.

He has been featured on TV channels such as NDTV Profit, Times Now, Bloomberg TV  and ET Now. CNBC did a feature on Nikhil as part of the show ‘Young Turks’ and the Discovery Channel featured him in the show The Flying Wine Maker in 2015. He was voted as India’s TOP 10 Movers & Shakers in Verve magazine in June 2014. Nikhil has been invited by Trade organizations from around the world like International Wine and Spirits Show in Hong Kong, SIAL, ProWein, etc to speak about the Indian wine industry for international exhibitors and buyers.

Nikhil has been invited to address international exhibitors on the growing Indian Wine Market and the unique Indian wine consumer at the Wine Innovation Forum at SIAL China 2015, one of the biggest food and beverage shows in Asia.

Nikhil has been appointed as the program director of  the Wines of India.

Gateway Brewing Co.

 

Gateway 1FoundersFermantation Tanks filled with Beer

A few years ago, the only beer we were familiar with was the one we were subjected to by the ‘King of Good Times’. Home-brewing was uncommon; there were no regulations, no ingredient supplies and worst of all absolute lack of awareness of craft beer

Mumbai got one its first micro-brewery when duo Rahul Mehra and Krishna Naik quit their jobs to get into the business of beer. They were joined by Navin Mittal armed with a Business Degree from Clark University and over 20 years of experience in product development and marketing. What started off as secret beer making sessions in their kitchen turned to beer workshops for a few enthusiasts. In 2011, they established a business plan to supply beers on tap to various restaurants and bars in Mumbai.

Gateway Brewing Co. the brainchild and hard work of this trio, has paved the way for other craft breweries to establish themselves. In a way, they have authored the unwritten book on setting up and marketing a micro-brewery in Maharashtra.

If you want to rediscover beer as you know it, make sure your weekend plan includes a visit to any one of the thirty plus restaurants or pubs Gateway Brewing Co. is available at.  The really quirky names of the beers just add to the mystery of discovering craft-beer. So are you a Doppelganger or Like That Only?

Keeping It Cool With Chandon Summer

All Things Nice and Chandon India hosted a super cool summer party for our guests and members at Please Don’t Tell last Saturday. We opened a few bottles of the new Chandon Summer collection and must say that we absolutely love the chic new packaging.

A selection of three refreshing Chandon based cocktails were served with delicious canapes. All in all, it was a fun social evening with people who really know how to enjoy themselves.

Chandon Keep It Cool Packaging Image 1 Image 2

Our Iconic Cloudy Bay Wine Dinner

Cloudy Bay dinner at Four Seasons (13)

Cloudy Bay dinner at Four Seasons (43)

Cloudy Bay dinner at Four Seasons (34)All Things Nice and Chandon India hosted an iconic dinner with Cloudy Bay, New Zealand’s most famous winery, at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Over 35 guests enjoyed an evening of fabulous wine paired with an outstanding menu by Chef Chaitanya Sharma at The Kitchen, a quaint little space that allowed everyone to be in close quarters to the live action in the kitchen.

The wines served were stars from the Cloudy Bay portfolio – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and finally Te Koko, a unique style of Sauvignon Blanc. Some of Chef Sharma’s creations included the Sous Vide Tiger Prawns, Truffled Potato Gnocchi and the Roast Lamb Loin in Butternut Squash Puree. In our opinion Cloudy Bay offers super high quality wines that arefull of freshness and finesse and you cannot but help fall in love with them. We weren’t surprised that this evening turned out to be such a great success!

Here is a look at the outstanding menu we enjoyed

Pass Around Canapés

Asparagus Fricassee In Mini Bouchees (V)
or
Goat Cheese And Walnut With California Grape (V)
or
Home Cured Salmon In Rye Baguette
or
Smoked Chicken And Green Apple On Whole Wheat Crisp

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand

First Course

Roasted Baby Beets With Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Pommery Honey Dressing (V)
or
Sous Vide Tiger Prawns With Cauliflower Puree And Pickled Root Vegetables
or

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand

Second Course

Truffled Potato Gnocchi, Toasted Pinenuts, BeurreNoisette (V)
or
Roast Lamb Loin, Butternut Squash Puree, Glazed Confit Carrots, Thyme Jus
or
Cloroudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough, New Zealand

Third Course

Platter of Brie, gruyere and chevre with wheat crisps

Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand

Petit Fours