Vishvas Sidana, sommelier at Haoma Restaurant, talks quarantine quaffs, his favourite personal hero, and his signature pairing.
Although born in Rajasthan, Vishvas Sidana grew up in India’s capital, New Delhi. His career in hospitality began with an on-the- job training undergraduate program called STEP – systematic training and education program – offered by Oberoi Hotels and Resorts. He began at The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, but later went to work at The Oberoi, New Delhi, where at the tender age of 21 he started as a wine waiter at Travertino, the hotel’s fine dining Italian restaurant.
His growing interest in wine led him to more intense studies, first at the WSET school in London – he’s currently a WSET Level 3 certified sommelier – and then with the Court of Master Sommeliers at the International Culinary Center in California, where he obtained an Intensive Sommelier Training Diploma. Fittingly, he cites Rajat Parr as a major professional influence. “I really wanted to know the top people in the industry. I was so surprised to see an Indian guy, who didn’t taste wine till the age of 23, go on to become the most celebrated sommelier in the world. I picked up his book Secrets of the Sommeliers, and that led me to do what I do today. And now we are friends, and he’s been a great mentor.”
At the Sazerac Bar in New Delhi, Vishvas was first introduced to chef Deepanker “DK” Khosla – the man behind Bangkok’s neo- Indian fine dining restaurant Haoma – through a mutual friend. In December of 2017 he came to Thailand for 10 days to see what DK’s project was all about. “He took me to the farm in Chiang Mai and that’s where I saw what the future could be if I started working with him,” the now 32-year-old recalls, adding that chef DK’s interest in sustainability, and elevating humble local ingredients, parallels his own views on natural wines. “It’s the farmers and winemakers who practice organic and biodynamic farming whose wines show great potential and offer multidimensional tasting experiences.”
NOTE: During the Coronavirus shutdown Vishvas and DK have been kept busy providing free meals for the poor as part of Haoma’s #NoOneHungry charitable initiative.
His Signature Pairing
“My signature pairing is a 100 percent Pinot Noir Fredric Savart L’Overture Champagne served in a glass washed with Pierde Almas +9 Botanicals Mezcal — paired with the mushroom galouti kebab starter — but my personal favourite is Ohmine Junmai Daiginjo Sake paired with the ‘Disappearing Duck’ curry course.”
His Quarantine Quaffs
“For a soothing red at the end of the day, I’d say 2018 Morgan by Marcel Lapierre. For a refreshing white before a Netflix binge night, I’d choose a 2016 Trebbiano D’Abruzo by Emidio Pepe or a 2018 Muscadet Sevre & Maine by Jerome Bretaudeau.”
“My personal favourite comic book superhero would be Batman. The fact that he doesn’t have any actual super powers and also has a human side to him — for me that’s the reason.”
“Food and wine pairings are always tricky and difficult, especially with the intense spices chef DK uses at Haoma. Luckily, my family back in India was involved in spice trading and I grew up tasting and eating them in various combinations. After developing a palate for wines, I used my knowledge to combine them both in different styles. With Indian food in general, you need wines that are fresh, crisp, and crunchy.”