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Vinayak Hegde

Pursuit of Happiness

For the Love of Wine
Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan's cellar holds his most prized collection

Naini Thaker

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry.” As you take your first sip, it is the aroma that hits you first, and you’re left with a tangy and bittersweet aftertaste. You gulp it down, feel your palate refined. Every type of wine narrates its own beautiful form of poetry.

While some may be occassional drinkers, it means serious business for others, and Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra happens to be one of them. Narayanan’s first client at McKinsey was a “serious wine guy” and that inspired him to start collecting — what started off as a mere conversation point became his passion. The wine connoisseur has been collecting wine bottles for the past 17 years and currently owns 1,000 bottles in his cellars – 900 in the US, and 100 stowed away at his home in Bengaluru. But of the massive collection, his favourite is a 1989 Château Mouton Rothschild.

Collecting wine is not as simple as storing about 10-15 bottles of different kinds of wine in the refrigerator, he tells us. It calls for research in its own right as well as an appropriate storage facility. Even though wine collection is only a hobby, the Myntra head has put in years of research into the various types of wine available across the globe, ways to store it, the right time to open a bottle, etc. The two most important aspects for wine, Narayanan explains, are time and taste. “You have to wait patiently for that optimal time. If you open it before it gets to its full potential, or indeed, are late to it, it will not taste the same.” Furthermore, he says, “The cellar needs to have the correct temperature and humidity. In India, it is difficult to get these perfect temperatures, and extreme conditions can ruin the wine.”

Professionally, this passion has helped him connect and network with all kinds of people. He is a regular at The Wine Connoisseurs Club, where he enjoys interacting with like-minded people and takes pleasure in understanding wine and having conversations about it. “I think of it as an investment, but my wife calls it an expense,” he laughs. Many wine connoisseurs buy and sell their bottles at charity auctions or even online, but Narayanan hasn’t sold a single bottle as yet. “There is a list online, where you have to enrol yourself to buy American wine. It’s on a first-come first-serve basis. I had to wait for four years to get my hands on a bottle of Colgin IX Estate Napa Valley red wine,” he adds. According to him, there are three factors that go into having a good collection of wine – grade, region and the number of years for the wine to grow.

What goes best with wine? Wine and cheese, most might say. But Narayanan has a different take. “I love having French wine with South Indian food. I keep experimenting with different forms of French wine and try to match it with the spice level of food.” He believes the key to understanding wine is experimentation. If you are a wine drinker, Narayanan advises, “Chill and air the wine for about 20 minutes, the wine will start tasting very, very different.” And better, not to mention.

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