India's First Wine, Food and Hospitality Website, INDIAN WINE ACADEMY, Specialists in Food & Wine Programmes. Food Importers in Ten Cities Across India. Publishers of delWine, India’s First Wine.
Skip Navigation Links
About Us
Indian Market
Wine & Health
Wine Events
Retail News
Contact Us
Skip Navigation Links
Wine Tourism
Book Review
Photo Gallery
Readers' Comments
Video Wall
Media Partners
Ask Wineguyindia
Wine & Food
Wine Guru
Gerry Dawes
Harvest Reports
Mumbai Reports
Advertise With Us
US Report on Indian Market Released
Top Ten Importers List 2015-16
On Facebook
On Twitter
Delhi Wine Club
Wine Club Dinner: Top Wines from Gaja Impress

Posted: Monday, 05 September 2011 16:24

Indian Wines in the UK Supermarkets

September 05 : While it may be debatable whether the UK Supermarket chains Waitrose is the first to put Indian wines on the shelf but the export is like the first step of a baby boy, if one believes in what the experts in the UK market opine, writes Subhash Arora who and many other producers believe that privately that it is very challenging to sell wines costing over £5 in the price sensitive UK market.

With tongue-in-cheek remarks like ‘UK supermarket is claiming a first — by flogging plonk from India’, the UK media announced late last week with news reports also carried by some Indian dailies that the British supermarket chain, Waitrose has tied up with Four Seasons for white Viognier labeled as Ritu  and Zampa for Shiraz.

Wine buyer for Waitrose, Matt Smith reportedly said: "India is arriving as a wine nation. I've been looking at Indian wines for four to five years. It's taken a while but the quality has improved a great deal."

The Viognier will be sold at £6.99 while the Syrah will cost a discounted £8.49. The Waitrose website showed it at £10.99 last week but it has since been discounted by 20%.This deal obviously bodes well for the Indian wine industry as it would give an added exposure to the Indian wines. Indian Grape Processing Board had taken part at the London Wine Show in May this year and several Indian companies including Four Seasons and Zampa had participated in the maiden attempt in London. Wines from India stand had quite an appreciative set of visitors who were reportedly even pleasantly surprised to know that India had in fact a wine industry.

Whether it would result in immediate sales volumes is quite debatable, though.  Robert Joseph, the well known British journalist, jurist, author and a critic of global scale and now a part time producer of South of France wines  thinks at the present price point, there would not be much scope of sales. ‘UK is very price sensitive market. Signing a deal or having the PR reports published in newspapers is one thing but the market reality is that in UK most of the customers like to buy wine at a maximum of £5, beyond which they lose interest.’

Robert should know. He is producing wine in South of France in partnership with Kevin Shaw and the well known producer Hugh Ryman,  (who incidentally makes Maison Pierre for Sula) two labels- Le Grande Noir and Greener Planet. ‘We are a small producer with total sales of a million bottles of Le Grand Noir and 350,000 bottles of the Planet. With great difficulties we have been able to make a break-through in UK but the quantities we sell at the discounted retail price of £7.50 are extremely small. We know that if the price is brought down by a pound, the sales will pick up significantly and at £5 retail, they will fly.’ Showing me an iPod App he tells me that currently the retailer’s gross margins is 47% but will come down to 7% at the retail price of £5 which is obviously not workable.

London based Gerd Stepp who was the president of my jury panel at the MundusVini competition last week, has been working full-time with Mark and Spencer for a decade and is now their consultant. He is the winemaker who used to  work with the wine suppliers to the British supermarket chain and department stores.  Not willing to comment on the prospects for Indian wines, he was however; quite confident that any wine selling for over £5 has a limited market in the supermarkets, including Waitrose.

‘At these prices you are talking of Rhone Village wines; you are even getting into the basic Burgundy territory. Besides, there are infinite numbers of decent wines from Chile, South Africa and Australia at cheaper prices. The customer would rather buy those wines,’ says Gerd.

Abhay Kewadkar of Four Seasons Wines, a part of the UB group, is quite upbeat though. ‘The team of buyers from Waitrose had come and tasted wines at our stand at the London Wine Show organised by IGPB. They liked our Viognier and indicated they would place a PO while short listing Shiraz.’ Wines have been already on the shelf and were officially released on August 29. ‘We have also sent a container with other range of Ritu wines to be sold to hotels and restaurants,’ says Abhay who had visited several restaurants for almost a month after the London Fair.

UK has a fixed import duty of £1.81 a bottle of any quality. The sales price includes a VAT of around 19-20%. With the retailer margins included, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise that the selling price has to be extremely low and generally unprofitable.

Waitrose is not new to selling wines with a niche market like Indian wines. Over the last two years it  has introduced wines from Croatia, Montenegro, Lebanon, Kosovo, Slovenia, Georgia, Morocco and the latest addition of India will make their portfolio slightly more exotic.

Despite a skeptical section of experts, a start has to be made and this is good news for Four Seasons, Zampa and the image of Indian wines. Of course, Indage had been exporting earlier to UK though details are not available as they are still going through crises. Sula and Grover are also present in UK already, the latter through the well-known distributor Bibendum.  But whether or not they are able to sell respectable numbers  in UK is too early to tell and one cannot be sure that the baby will turn out to be a strong, healthy young man with longevity.

In the meantime, with Christmas ritu (season) around the corner, who knows a- promotional deal  under £5, might just do the trick and help Waitrose sell bigger volumes.

Subhash Arora



Subhash Arora Says:

Dear Avinash, Thanks for your comments. I have already written a relevnt article on the retail channel forimported wines in India I would have to do some more research for the foreign markets. Frankly, one does not have much control over the outside channel expenses unless the volumes are large enough to have your own warehouse and an online sales possibility wherever the law permits direct sales. One still requires some distribution channel for on-line trade. Subhash Arora --

Posted @ September 08, 2011 15:54


Subhash Arora Says:

Sula informs us that their wines have been in the UK market for the last 6 years, with their primary focus on premium range which has been positioned in the on-trade. They are listed in prestigious restaurant wine lists such as the Michelin star restaurant Benares, Cinnamon Club and Trishna! P&O Cruises has also chosen to serve their wines. They are represented in UK by Hallgarten Druitt representing world class producers from all over the world. Subhash Arora

Posted @ September 08, 2011 12:30


Avinash Says:

Also there are other methods to reduce the price of Indian wines. The channels of distribution which account for more than the cost of the wine. I think it calls for another article by Delwine.

Posted @ September 07, 2011 14:59


Avinash Says:

This article is very crtitical towards Indian wines despite the fact that its been mere 4 to 5 years when majority of players have started producing wines.Its a long way to go but I think its possible that India makes really good wine and the price is also matter of time and directly linked to production volumes. I think its a positive sign. Well let the baby at least boom right now like the baby boomer of USA . In the long run everyone is dead. I have drunk enough horrible wines from all over the world including a Cote du Rhone Village yesterday itself for 11.99 Euros.

Posted @ September 07, 2011 13:45


Want to Comment ?
Please enter your comments in the space provided below. If there is a problem, please write directly to Thank you.

Generate a new image

Type letters from the image:

Please note that it may take some time to get your comment published...Editor

Wine In India, Indian Wine, International Wine, Asian Wine Academy, Beer, Champagne, World Wine Academy, World Wine, World Wines, Retail, Hotel


Copyright©indianwineacademy, 2003-2020 |All Rights Reserved
Developed & Designed by Sadilak SoftNet