In India, the prime minister toasts Obama with juice [Indian wine]

obama msingh The Obamas’ first state dinner was in honor of Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and his wife. As you may recall, the White House wine steward tried to start an international conflagration by pairing a high-alcohol Grenache with green curry prawns.

So with the return leg of the India-America state visits, marking what the leaders hailed as “the defining partnership of the 21st century,” the eyes of wine geeks in the two countries were on the menu for New Delhi. When the moment came to raise a ceremonial glass, Prime Minister Singh did so–with juice. It turns out that no alcohol is served at state dinners in India, but that didn’t stop a local wine personality from chiding the President, encouraging her to uncork Indian wine on such occasions.

On his blog, Subhash Arora added, “Mercifully, they are all allowed to drink in private.” On Twitter, after she commented on the event, I asked Chicago-based sommelier Alpana Singh what she thought the prime minister opened behind closed doors. She replied, “Oh! That’s easy – if he’s a true Singh it’s Johnnie Walker – Blue, Black or red in descending order of preference.”

While China has recently caught the attention of the wine world with eye-popping sales, India has yet to break out. Despite having a population over one billion, the Indian market uncorked only 17 million bottles, amounting to only a sip per year per inhabitant. (China was about eight times that amount.) Interestingly, about three-quarters of the wine consumed in India is red and an even higher percentage is made domestically.

Related: “Drinking wine in India
Eternal summer, altitude, and the gyropalette boondoggle: making wine in India

reduced sized crop of AP/Saurabh Das image

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5 Responses to “In India, the prime minister toasts Obama with juice [Indian wine]”


  1. Any info on where someone could pick up some Indian wine?


  2. Hey Jarrod –

    I believe Sula wines are available here in the US.

    (Search for Sula.)


  3. Hey! Jarrod,

    If you are in NYC, then you can purchase Sula at BottleRocket at 19th Street (5th ave.), FlatIron District. And as Dr. Vino said, it is widely available but need to search a bit.
    India, indeed is evolving and soon a wave of wine drinking population will increase. Cheers!


  4. [...] In India, the prime minister toasts Obama with juice [Indian wine]Dr. VinoWhen the moment came to raise a ceremonial glass, Prime Minister Singh did so–with juice. It turns out that no alcohol is served at state dinners in India, … [...]


  5. It is true that in India, the market for red wine is not that huge in comparison to its burgeoning population. Chinese wine makers must be so lucky…


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