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Delhi Wine Club
Wines under resuscitation at the Delhi Duty Free

Posted: Wednesday, 19 March 2014 11:11

Wines under resuscitation at the Delhi Duty Free

Mar 19: While the space hogged by liquor at the Delhi Duty Free (DDF) shops is expanding, the wine section seems to have contracted with no path-breaking marketing strategy in sight but increasing choice of labels and a few minor, insignificant offers are indicative of the vendors applying their mind and will hopefully influence sales in a positive way, writes Subhash Arora as he checked out the DDF on his way to Singapore yesterday

Click For Large ViewAs you are about to enter the immigration area of the international departure lounge at the IGI Airport –T3, a pleasant surprise awaits you - the immigration forms have been sizably downsized. Finally, a government cost reduction exercise that may not downsize the travel plans of the politicians-also their flunkies might find it easier to fill them for the bosses.

There is also a new 4-page Duty-free shopping promotional flier that lists a few deals on whisky, vodka, Single malts and chocolates- but none on wines. It also gives you a price promise. ‘if you find a perfume & cosmetic cheaper in the city we pledge to return the difference’ it screams at you. Very European! Except that it is easy to compete with the city prices where heavy import duties on perfumes and cosmetics make them too expensive to compete anyway. Pocketing a major chunk of the duty savings, it validates my stand that today duty free shops are not as attractive as they used to be –high rents and greed for a higher bottom line from the monopoly enjoyed by the stores at airports make them a bait for the gullible and captive shoppers who are perfect targets for impulsive buying, believing that would  get great bargains here.

Click For Large ViewI wondered why the price guarantee was not valid also on wine and liquor as I browsed through the wine section whose space has shrunk since last month when I did my customary visit. One whole section dedicated earlier to Champagnes has been replaced by chocolates, the newly discovered alternative source for anti-oxidants while Champagne shelf has been downsized and migrated to  smaller space.

I got my answer about the ‘Price Promise’ as I browse through the small Indian wine section where the display of ‘Sette’ by Fratelli has increased since last time. At $52 it is twice as expensive as the city price of Rs.1650 ($26). This price has always confounded me though one feels proud to find an Indian wine command such a high price, I am told by the sales staff that the buyers  are generally expats, mostly the affluent Chinese and a select few whose criteria is to buy the best (read most expensive). Fratelli must be pleased with the pricing and sales even though Kapil Sekhri, the Delhi-based Director is at his diplomatic best when he says they don’t have a hand in pricing any label.  Next to Sette are stocked the Indian Nine Hills and Aussie Jacobs Creek –both at $10. A couple of other Fratelli wines are at $13-16-commanding  slight premium over the street prices.

There are quite a few deals now that can save you $2 to $5 on the second bottle- the number of such attractions has increased since the last time. Luce from Frescobaldi sells for $164. But a free strolley as a gift makes it an interesting offer. Similarly a Bellavista Franciacorta Brut (Champagne wearing an Italian designer suit, terroir and tasting better than your run-of-the-mill champagnes) is a new attraction that sells for around $50 but a discount of $5 on the second bottle might tempt you to try one of the top Italian bubblies. 

Click For Large ViewIt is heartening  to find Prosecco inching its way up in the sparkling wine hit parade even at the DDF shops with Zonin Special Cuvee (we had served it at the Delhi Wine Club Dinner at Empress of China at Hotel Eros last month and was well-liked by members). But at $20 it is a bit steep. Why won’t you buy a Jacobs Creek Rose Brut or even a Brut at $12! That would be a much better buy (Zonin Prosecco would compete in value at $15!).

With less space, there are more number of labels that cry out to wine lovers to take a look at the departure and arrival lounge (DDF offers you to buy at the Departure and pick up on Arrival). Great for window-shopping and who knows-on an impulse you might want to pick up a bottle or two! The day is not far off when there will be attractive offers on wines-like buy one and get another one at 50% or a special price on a pack of 2 from a producer. Imagine the promise of a Promis at $47, Gromis at $87-both great value-for-money wines priced moderately decently bit at $114 a pack of 2!! I would buy the pack every time, even if I gift to friends who I want to convert to drinking fine wines, at my cost.

Subhash Arora



Subhash Arora Says:

I noticed the same thing Ashwin at the Delhi -T3 arrival. My comments? IT SUCKS!! Subhash Arora

Posted @ March 24, 2014 15:30


Ashwin ValechaSays:

Sir, Greetings from Mumbai! Though its unfortunate that shelf space for wines at IGI T3 has shrunk, the schemes offer a ray of hope. I wouldn't know if anyone has apprised you about this, but on my recent arrival from abroad to Mumbai's new Terminal 2, I was shocked to find NO WINES for sale at the duty free shop. At the departure duty free shop, there was a small selection, but on arrival absolutely no wines on sale. I don't know where this country is headed?

Posted @ March 24, 2014 15:00


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