Home Bangalore Batting for wine

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    Australia Cricket Wine Club

    Meeting Nick Pringle last week was fun. The former English county cricketer is director of global wine company Accolade Wines, UK, the people behind Hardy’s, the mammoth Australian wine brand that’s synonymous with cricket. The last time we chatted, it was something of a strain. He’d lost his voice and was croaking valiantly through the final leg of his whirlwind India tour. This time, Pringle’s voice and wit were intact. At the Taj West End’s Blue Bar, the Bangalore Wine Club enjoyed Hardy’s wines, white, red and sparkling, while Pringle spoke about that inevitable topic that comes up in India – cricket.
    And wine.
    Hardy’s is cashing in on the cricket craze in countries like the UK and Australia, where huge hoardings around the cricket grounds exhort spectators to drink their wines. As with most importers, the prospect of reaching India’s middle class millions is a huge draw. Indians love cricket, ergo they might try the wine associated with it. This could help Hardy’s overtake Jacob’s Creek, the other Australian brand that’s ruling the popularity charts currently, he adds. To strengthen this belief, Aussie legend Glenn McGrath has been roped in as brand ambassador. Why McGrath? “Good question. We did look at some Indian cricketers, but most were either too old or too expensive. Ian Botham too, whom I’ve played with myself. But I had to explain all about him to my own teenage son. McGrath is still well-known and socially a very nice guy. Unless he’s bowling at you,” he grins. More Hardy’s offerings will come soon, including wines from New Zealand and South Africa, Indian taxes and laws permitting. “The middle class is getting adventurous, their palate is changing. They don’t want insipid stuff. ”
    Meanwhile, Pringle is attending wine and music fest, Sula Fest, being organised by their Indian partners, Sula, where he’s hosting the Hardy’s lounge where the sparkling wine will flow. A big fan of music festivals like Glastonbury, he’s mighty excited about the experience. “I wanted to camp in a tent – true music fest style, but they said no,” he shrugs. He wants to visit the Taj Mahal too, but his hectic schedule (his mandate stretches from Mexico to Nepal) may not permit it this time. He’s keen to try some more spicy Indian food which he loves. But he’s being reined in by the Sula team, who seem to be more worried about the state of his tummy than he is.
    Back to cricket, then. Does he approve of Virat Kohli, the anointed one after MS Dhoni? “Through natural progression, Kohli’s day will come,” says Pringle, “But Dhoni is special, with his unique style of leadership and play. India still needs him around.” Failure can be scary, especially when it’s on a roll. A little too much cricket being played? he suggests. Probably, I agree. “Ah, today it’s not just about cricket, it’s about fast results.”
    Of enduring delight to him is when he looks out from his hotel room over an Indian city like Mumbai, and sees cricket being played on every rooftop, street and alleyway. “It’s wonderful to see all the passion.”
    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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