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Delhi Wine Club
Indians Ready for Wine-at Lower Prices

Posted: Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:57

Indians Ready for Wine-at Lower Prices

Jan 25: Wine may not have won over the beer and whisky guzzling Indians fully yet-just  over a million cases of wine are sold annually in India but the popular accompaniment with food around the world is waiting to explode as a lifestyle product - if priced right, according to various Indian experts, claims a report by Indo Asian News Service.

India loves its beer and whisky, which together account for as many as 373 million cases, according to the report. Even beer that at times is paired with food accounts for 140 million cases. "Indians are not averse to wines. It's just that it's inaccessible due to the price factor. If the prices come down it would ease the process of familiarization with the product," says sommelier Magandeep Singh.

"Government policies need to loosen up on customs duties. States have to appreciate the difference between wine and hard liquor to formulate their policies accordingly," said Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy and the Delhi Wine Club.

"Availability has been a big constraint due to government policies," Arora told IANS.

Another deterrent, he says, is that the hotels and restaurants are not coming forward to bring prices down, making them unaffordable. Prices of top global brands can go up to Rs. 25,000 or even much higher. Indian wines though are within reach. A Sula white, for example, is available at Rs. 500.

In a letter to President Pratibha Patil after a state banquet for President of the US, Barak Obama , Arora even requested her and her government to consider serving Indian wines at the State banquets to promote the "health beverage" which in moderate consumption is said to be good for the heart and also for diabetics.

"The Indian domestic wine market is a little over a million cases but access to imported ones is inhibited by 160 percent import duty and state levies. If the price is not cut, it is going to remain an elitist and societal drink," said wine expert Sanjay Menon.

Delhi-based Kapil Sekhri, co-promoter and director of Fratelli Wines, an Indo-Italian venture, says wine is slowly becoming a lifestyle product. A believer like many hard-core optimists, he says, "We have 600 million people in the age group between 20 and 35. It's the youngest nation and so even if 10 % people of those convert  to wine, that is almost a country in Europe converting to wine.”

According to a recent report by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), 8% of the wine demand in India is accounted for by major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Bangalore. The figures may seem as erroneous as the Indian Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal rubbishing the CAG report  about 2G-one of the several scams filling in the media space these days- most experts would put this figure around 80%. However, the survey might have focused on the total volume of wines including the low end fortified wines and cheaper Indian wines which find their favourite lovers outside these metro regions.

While 41 % of the wine quaffed in India is consumed in the western states, north follows with 29 %. The report also said demand for wine is rising in emerging Tier-II and Tier-III cities thanks to working professionals and the younger generation.

"Growth can be faster in smaller cities but enough efforts are not being made. Pune is an example of how wine culture has taken off in a short time. There are dozens of cities like Pune waiting to be explored," said Arora.

Gabriel Ruiz Lopez, chief executive of Grapeland, a Spanish wine company, said: "India is just awakening to wines. People usually buy those which are priced low. But we plan to sell approximately 48,000 bottles of wine in the coming year."



Romi Bhalla Says:

Dear Subhash this is very interesting. First off all when it comes to wines irrespective of what it costs taste is paramount. What's the point of drinking a wine for merely a kick? You might as well drink some cheap hard liquor. It reminds me of the "kitna deti hai " ad of Maruti. Wine is not expensive we simply cant afford it. Yes the taxes are high but its the content that matters the most and not price. I think we should stop winching about high prices and concentrate more about the finer nuances of wine.Yes in context of other alcoholic beverages wines will always be expensive a worldwide phenomenon no matter what the taxes are. Why don't "Black Label" or single malt drinkers winch about prices, apparently they get a huge "sarur" after a few pegs which may not be the case with wines. The most important factor is afford ability pyramid people with less disposable incomes go for cheap liquors and higher incomes go for scotch and premium spirits. No matter how much the prices come down good wines will always be more expensive than spirits or cheap wines without any character vis a vie "sarur" to taste quotient.

Posted @ February 03, 2011 10:47


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