Luxury

Unpacking India’s biggest wine boutique, Tonique

BENGALURU - KARNATAKA - 25/06/2019 : Tonique, largest liquor boutique span across 30,000 sq. ft, with a floor dedicated to wines, located at the corner of Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road and M Chinnaswamy stadium, opposite to Gandhi statue, in Bengaluru on June 25, 2019. Photo: K Murali Kumar / THE HINDU

BENGALURU - KARNATAKA - 25/06/2019 : Tonique, largest liquor boutique span across 30,000 sq. ft, with a floor dedicated to wines, located at the corner of Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road and M Chinnaswamy stadium, opposite to Gandhi statue, in Bengaluru on June 25, 2019. Photo: K Murali Kumar / THE HINDU

Imagine a store that straddles two storeys, boasts six-foot-tall signage, and is spread over 25,000 square feet in the very heart of Bengaluru. A store to wander at leisure, browsing the racks for rare whiskies and vintage wines. Where you could indulge in an invitees-only tasting with your favourite Italian winemaker. Or check with a trained sommelier if you should opt for that Côtes-du-Rhône red over an Australian Shiraz for your weekend brunch.

Imagine no more. Anith Reddy-owned Hyderabad-based Tonique, reputed to be Asia’s biggest wine and liquor boutique, is opening an even bigger, grander outpost in Bengaluru this weekend. This is India’s second Tonique: the first opened in the City of Pearls in December 2016. Several outlets will follow, including one on Mumbai’s Linking Road and at Hyderabad airport. Bengaluru is slated to get six smaller format stores, Q by Tonique (3-5,000 sq ft), this year.

Krug comes to town

Last minute work was going on when I walked in through the large glass doors, but the bottles were already on the racks and the sight is impressive — opening day inventory is worth ₹6 crore alone. The ground floor houses spirits and beer, with a selection of 55 whiskies: Johnnie Walker Blue Label (₹17,680 for 750 ml) sits near the Talisker 30YO (₹24,160), Glenfiddich 26YO (₹40,350), and The John Walker (₹2,79,570). Beer includes every brand available in the state, domestic and imported, housed in wall-to-wall chillers. General manager operations, GLN Das, tells me customers can choose from a range of 27 vodkas, 20 gins, 23 tequilas, and liqueurs like Cointreau and Absinthe, plus a range of top-end mixers and tonics. Fancy a Remy Martin Louis XIII (₹2,32,000)? Just ask.

Upstairs is the dedicated wine floor. A vast range of nearly 1,000 Indian and international labels will be on offer, ranging from ₹500 (Indian) upwards, including Château Margaux (₹1,22,340) and Pétrus (₹3,89,700). There will be 30 Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world, and Das says they can supply up to 24 bottles of Moët & Chandon NV off the shelf. They will be the only retailer showcasing both Dom Pérignon and Krug, and might add vintage Champagnes should the demand arise. The store will also have the country’s largest display of sakes. Eight labels are already in-store and Das says they plan to add another 10 to 12.

Sipping wine at the store

While Tonique’s strength will be its large inventory, the cherry on the cake will be their wine license to serve wines in-store. Sommelier and winemaker-led tastings will be regularly scheduled for their clientèle, and the store will remain open until 10.30 pm every day, with valet parking for the traffic-stressed. Dedicated WSET-trained staff, including sommeliers and brewmasters will be on hand to chat, discuss provenance, food pairings and serving suggestions. A word of caution: there will be no home deliveries or discounts offered in keeping with state laws.

Tonique has tapped into the portfolios of every Indian wine and spirits producer, and importer of note, to offer their clientèle the best liquor buying experience possible, says Reddy, 43, the Hyderabad-based businessman who researched extensively before starting his dream project. “It is all about the experience. I believe the time has come for the concept of luxury wine and liquor boutiques in India. There was a vacuum in this space, one that needed to be filled and I’m confident that Bengaluru is the right place for the largest Tonique,” he says. For a man who dreams big and drinks better (his favourite drink is Hennessy XO Cognac), it seems quite the thing.

Booming in Bengaluru

Compared to other Indian cities, Bengaluru has long been spoiled for choice when it comes to liquor stores. With multiple Not Just Wine and Cheese (NJWC) stores, from the Classic Group, and Madhuloka outlets, there have been numerous shopping options available for some years. Each has its own USP. NJWC was the first to open a wine bar and café in-store, while Madhuloka also has a restaurant and wine school where training courses are offered for professionals and enthusiasts. Smaller outlets like Dewars’ and Cyber Wines offer personalised buying advice and have their own fans. The biggest stir happened earlier this year when La Cave (pictured below), an expansive 5,000 sq feet wine and spirits boutique opened in tony Indiranagar’s 100 Feet road. The chic store offered consumers “a sophisticated and immersive shopping experience”. On-point design and a wide range of domestic and international wine and spirits across various price ranges differentiates it from other stores. Now with Tonique added to the mix, Bengalureans can drink and be merry.


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Printable version | Feb 19, 2022 7:01:28 am | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/luxury/unpacking-indias-biggest-wine-boutique-tonique/article28198063.ece