January  2008



From the current issue

 Art in Emerging India


 Top 3 TV Presenters
 George Alagiah
 Sanjay Gupta
 Mishal Husain

 Indian Wines

Hot Wheels in India

 Lahore Gymkhana
 Cricket Club



 Films - Book Reviews
 Mr & Mrs Dutt

 Romancing with Life

 Maitreya Temple

 Mumbai Convocation
 Hall & Galle Hotel

 Altit Settlement


 Alpana Singh





 the print gallery

 the art gallery










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AlpanaSingh - wine wonder woman

"I'd love to be the spokesperson for my generation's interest in wine—a wild dream, but maybe it's possible."


The Wine Wonder
Young, Indian-American, and a woman - in the white-male dominated world of wine – Alpana became the youngest person ever to pass both the advanced sommelier course (at 21) and the master sommelier final exam (at 26) – an examination which only 4% pass! The exam includes blind-tasting six wines to identify the varietal, district of origin and vintage. She is one of 87 Master Sommeliers in North America – fourteen of whom are women. There are only 106 other people the world over who have earned the Master Sommelier diploma bestowed by the Court of Master Sommeliers in Devon, England, the international examining body for wine knowledge.

Currently the Director of Wine and Spirits for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc., she oversees wine education & training, purchasing and bar programme development for the Chicago based restaurant group.

Prior to her position at Lettuce, Alpana served as sommelier for Chef J. Joho’s Relais Gourmand and Traditions et Qualité restaurant Everest in Chicago, where her job, as she says, "… was not to pick the wine for them (the guests at the restaurant), but to help them pick a wine for themselves" - not an easy task from a list of more than 1,400 wines!


The Writer

Alpana’s experience as Sommelier at Chicago’s four-star Everest gave her a rare insight into relationships – not just personal – but also business relationships. She observed that women business leaders hosting dinners at the restaurant would hand over the wine list to a man at the table – just because they did not know enough about wine to make any choices at all. Thus was born the idea of writing a book for women Alpana Pours: About Being a Woman, Loving Wine and Having Great Relationships. It is a fun book that demystifies wine and has some original interpretations by Alpana on what wine preferences say about a person:

abernet sauvignon is the "George Clooney" of wines - "sophisticates with natural, unforced elegance"

Zinfandel drinkers are "unpretentious and extroverts."

Sweet rosé or white zinfandelers - "You’re possibly a homebody who’s not too knowledgeable about wine."

The book advises women to "Get over the ‘Pretty Boy’ phase" ("Pretty Boys" in this case being chardonnays!!!)

At a more personal level – get to know the signals from what a man orders!

"It takes a long time to drink a bottle (of wine), so if he orders a bottle, he wants the date to last," she says. "But if it is by the glass or if he orders beer, then he is just kind of like, 'I just want to get this done and over with.'"

A bottle of champagne on the first or second date – Don’t be "wowed." "That is kind of a smooth operator move," Alpana says. "You are not the only one he is going to see that week."

The best guys ask for the lady’s preference before ordering. "He really listens to you and wants to know what your tastes are, and then he orders based on what you want."

In her book, Alpana divides the world of wine into six basic styles – Light whites (pinot grigio, chenin blanc and sauvignon blanc), Sweet Whites (riesling and vouvray ) and Heavy Whites (chardonnay and viognier); Light Reds (with low tannin levels, such as gamay), Spicy Reds (zinfandel and syrah ) and Full-Bodied Reds (cabernet, malbec and rioja) – as easy as that!

The Woman
Alpana was born to Indian parents who moved to California from the Fiji Islands. The family owned an ethnic grocery store in Monterey where Alpana worked at an early age; a life experience that she credits for her present day work ethic and ease with people of all ages. Born and raised in Monterey, California, Alpana attended college by day and waited tables by night. It was during this time that she discovered her love for wine and found that it combined her varied interests of geography, history and food. It was one of those life-changing moments when Alpana decided to pursue this newfound love as a career. 

She is also the host of the three-time Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show Check, Please!, which airs weekly in Chicago.

Alpana and husband, author Charles Blackstone, live in Chicago.

They do not have a collection of wine "…because we keep drinking it."

Alpana lends her support to causes that help the visually impaired, disaster survivors and local food banks.




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