Drinking wine in India


This postcard from India is by Dini Rao, formerly in the wine department at Christie’s, and currently finishing her MBA at Harvard Business School.

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My wine experience during my stay in India was eye-opening. If you told me five years ago that Indians would put down their bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label for a glass of Shiraz, I would laugh. After spending the first portion of my trip in the southern city of Chennai (formerly Madras), my concept of an Indian wine shop was bleak: a wine stand (see the first photo above) with men standing around in lungis all day, taking shots of “wine” i.e. liquor or port.

Then I arrived in Mumbai where swank hotels and restaurants serve Veuve yellow label for Rs. 2000 or $50 a glass. Top wineries attract Indians eager for tours with beautiful tasting rooms (see the second photo). As if welcoming me to the city, the current issue of Time Out Mumbai featured “Wine: Why we’re all drinking it,” a 12 page spread about wine bars, producers and sommeliers around town. According to a Newsweek International online article, Bollywood, which just graduated to showing its first scandalous on screen kiss on the lips, features stars sipping wine in recent movies.

raoindia1 Wine, while trendy, also seems to have serious takers. A friend publishes the wine magazine Sommelier India that circulates to India’s growing wine enthusiasts. When invited to witness a Wine Society of India tasting, I quickly dropped my previous plans to see Stephen Spurrier speak to 500 assembled Indian guests (see photo).

India’s wine future seems bright. Euromonitor predicts 100% growth from the 9 million bottles currently consumed in India over the next five years. Consumption per capita is low in the billion-person country, but concentrated, as Mumbai drinks 40% of wine by value and will continue as one of the highest growing markets. No wonder the WTO, led by the EU and US, pressures India to change the import duties on foreign wines which currently reach up to 550%.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of India’s wine culture is its own wine production. More on this in Wine in India, Part 2.

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7 Responses to “Drinking wine in India”


  1. I was in Hyderbabad a few months ago and concur. The wine was plentiful with a broad range of selections. I was suprised to find so many Napa and Sonoma wines as well. One good Indian vineyard I discovered was Sula and I tried several all being very good.


  2. I am excited to see expanding growth in the pleasurable past time of drinking and collecting wine in India! We have paired Indian food with wine for years in America – excited to see if native Indian tastes agree with the present favorites or discover new ones!
    Kathleen

    Wine and Stories from the Vineyard Blog – http://www.myspace.com/gamay


  3. Oh, yes, India is waking up to wine. There are a lot of great Vineyards and an equally astounding number of wines.

    The Sula stable and the Grover stable come out with some amazing labels. The Sula Chenin Blanc and the Grover Viogner Clairette are amongst favorites. Chateau Indage has this wonderful Marquise de Pompadour, Sparkling and it is just fantastically paired with Fish Goujons.

    There are a lot of new ones coming in, like the Vinsura, or the Nine Hills and the Mandala Valley.


  4. [...] This postcard from India is by Dini Rao, formerly in the wine department at Christie’s New York, and currently finishing her MBA at Harvard Business School. You can read her first postcard here. [...]


  5. i got a chance to try chantilli chenin blanc. it was a fantastic wine with great aromas and wonderful lingering taste. next on my radar is IVY range from Chateau indage. I have heard quite a lot about it’s viognier. I think viognier grape holds a great future in india .


  6. The climate over these parts of India has the right formula for great growth. The economic “temperature” is perfect for localized specialization and identity. I ask, why did it take so long for India to get into the world wine market?


  7. Hi All wine lovers,

    Impetus Research, a leading marketing research company based in India, is in the process of undertaking a nationwide study on wine consumption patterns in India.

    This is going to be an online survey and those who are interested to participate may please send in their name, gender, age and email ID on which they would like the survey links to be send on this ID consult at impetus-research dot com

    Thanks

    Ankush Wadhwa
    Sr. Manager – Online Research


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