India's Star Sommelier
© Aman Resorts
Sommelier Kavita Faiella.
When Kavita Faiella told me she’d passed up an offer to become the sommelier at England’s legendary Fat Duck so that she could move to India and oversee the wine program at the new Aman Resort New Delhi hotel, I thought she was crazy. (The talented young Aussie had also been interviewing with the French Laundry.) Why would a sommelier who had worked in Sydney with chefs like Neil Perry decide to move to a hotel in a very non-wine drinking country, where sommeliers are an anomaly? According to Kavita, the country’s only female restaurant sommelier, India is a sommelier's dream. Here, her top three reasons:
1. While working at restaurants like Rockpool in Sydney, Kavita would place bets with servers on who could sell something other than a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. "In India, people don’t come in and flip to a certain page of the wine list," she says. "They don’t have a wine style, so it’s just as easy to sell an Albariño as it is a Sauvignon Blanc."
2. "There is absolutely no pretention around wine in India. People don’t feel embarrassed or intimidated by not having a wine background. "
3. Kavita likes the challenge of curating a wine list that appeals to both wine geeks and wine novices. "At the hotel, the wine list has to appeal to the group of people who are very globally savvy and have traveled a lot, as well as to people who are interested in wine but may not have been exposed to it. That means I need to create a list full of secrets and quirky information that wine people will know and get, but also have explanations and stories that will entice experimenting among those who don’t have a wine-drinking background."