Interview with Radhaka Puar
What made you want to study Wine and Management?
The Wine and Management Programme at Le Cordon Bleu Paris was a true life saver for me in many ways.
I was a young graduate from a top 3 UK University in her first job in the UK when the recession hit in 2008 and I had no option but to leave the UK by 2010. When I returned to India, my home country, I found that the recession had made its way there and that things were not much better.
What interested me about the Wine and Management Programme at Le Cordon Bleu was its internships - one in the vineyard during harvest, and the other in the corporate sector. This is exactly what I needed to combine business expertise in the trade with technical expertise. The 5 trips to vineyards around France were the other compelling reasons for my picking this Programme. This was clearly a thorough, comprehensive programme, precisely what I needed.
Deciding to enrol in the Le Cordon Bleu Paris Wine and Management Programme was probably the best decision I ever made. In my endeavour to be self-employed, it has provided me with skills and technical expertise that are difficult to find in India. Further, it has opened doors for me within the wine sector in India that I couldn’t access from my vantage point as a highly skilled professional from the corporate sector.
What is your favourite memory from your adventure at Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris?
This is a difficult question! There are so many! My fondest memories are from Cognac, Champagne and from our trip to Rungis.
Also, in Champagne is where I bought my first bottle of wine in France, and I remember it particularly because I bought it directly from the house we visited. It was the Duval Leroy Brut Rosé NV. I took it home to my family in New Delhi over the Christmas holidays and even though I have bought many excellent wines from different houses on our trips after that, this one was special because it brought so much joy to my family.
Could you tell us briefly about your career path?
I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 2014. After that, I joined the Delhi Wine Club in summer 2014, started exploring import market.
I started my blog www.the-grape-vine.net in May 2015. Since 2015, I am associated with Group Ritu, and Mr Rajiv Singhal, head of the CIVC in India.
When and how did your actual adventure begin?
I graduated from the Wine and Management Programme in 2014. My original plan was to start a wine import business on my return to India.
Thus I decided to start small with a blog, and start writing about wine and food. Many wealthy Indians are intimidated by the cultural aspects of wine- such as pairing of food with wine. They don’t know for instance how to pair Indian food with wine. There is also a lot of apprehension when it comes to wine because of the intricacies of wine- its terminology, pronunciation of various grapes, etc. Thus the-grape-vine.net was born.
I have since then been associated with Group Ritu, the umbrella organisation under which all of these activities are performed. I am involved with the magazines as well as other activities across the group.
I am still self-employed and that writing about wine has, for me, been my way of making inroads into the wine sector in India, building a reputation for myself until I can be certain of the business venture I would like to start. But it’s a certainly a good start, and being associated with the CIVC in India has given me credibility within the sector.
What advice would you give to future Wine and Management students?
- Always be prepared to employ yourself.
- Be flexible with your business plan.
Could you describe your new life in India?
In a word, wonderful. If you would like a second word, I would say fulfilling.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are fluid, and I take each day as it comes. But the objective is to build something I would personally feel proud of, and I am willing to take things slowly to reach that space.