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Delhi Wine Club
WineSmile at Delhi Duty-Free

Posted: Wednesday, 29 June 2011 15:26

WineSmile at Delhi Duty-Free

June 29: There may not  be the  enticing smell of fine wine yet at the Duty-Free shop at the Arrival of  Terminal T-3 at the IGI Airport Delhi  or many passengers smiling at the better wine availability, but wine does smile at you now,  if only to reassure  that despite the difficulties in wine marketing, things are getting better all the time, writes Subhash Arora who was pleasantly surprised by the welcome on his return from overseas a couple of days ago.

Terminal T-3 is long, a very long terminal to reach the immigration counters, some say. Maybe it is a slightly longer walk than other world-class international airports . But decidedly it offers the best immigration service in the world, with the endless rows of surprisingly polite immigration officials working rather efficiently- and who can handle a couple of jumbo-loads without a sliver on their face. All one’s got to do is continue walking past the crowded counters. I know, because I was in one of the two jumbos that had arrived at the same time. Passing by the long-ish queues I trotted towards the farthest counters and found myself only the second person in line and was out in less than a minute.  What a nice feeling!

There was yet another pleasant surprise walking out of those counters-directly facing the Duty-Free shop -with beautifully positioned and attractive display panels  advertising wines of Villa Maria (New Zealand),Frescobaldi (Tuscany), Allegrini (Veneto) and Tarapaca (Chile). Acting also as a low end divider of the shop, it beckons you to enter the duty free shop to browse around for wines, over a hundred labels of which are now available, making the earlier ‘Champagne- only’ stands  rather inconspicuous. 

The quality and variety of wines is a few notches up and certainly attractive, even if the prices are still 10-20% higher compared to most European airports and there are still no promotions in sight. However,  Aman Dhall of Brindco who seems to have taken the pro-active initiative of the Delhi Duty- Free very seriously and is supporting it to the hilt, says that he plans to increase the current  70 labels+ from his company by more than 50 soon and also plans to install an Enomatic machine for tasting.  He is clearly the leader here as well, although one hopes there would be a wider choice available from other importers as well.

DelWine has been an ardent supporter of better availability of wines at Arrivals. Wines would be better stored and the prices ought to be lucrative. A lot would depend initially on the promotional schemes. Ideally, a scheme with an offer of a free 500 mL wine bottle on a purchase of two bottles, making the total purchase to 2 liters-the present legal limit- until the government takes cognizance of our plea of allowing 6 bottles of wine in lieu of 2 nos. of 1-liter bottles of hard liquor, making the policy based on the alcohol content rather than the number of bottles.

This also brought to my mind my recent visit to Fontanafredda, a big producer of Barolos and other Piemontese wines. They have started a project with 500 mL bottles for restaurants. It would be an ideal choice to  make it an add on to two standard bottles, making the total quantity of 2  liters. This is also the ideal size for 2 persons to enjoy at one sitting. Finewinesnmore, their importers in India could do something about it.

There are some minor placement anomalies which will surely be corrected in time. For some strange reason, Jacobs Creek is being displayed in the stand labeled ‘Spirits’.  The ‘Duty-Free Exclusive’ categorization of Cloudy Bay from Marlborough is not clear either.  At $35 it is not a great price- quality wine especially when Piper-Heidsieck Champagne is available for $40 a few steps away. It may be unfair to compare oranges with apples and there may be two distinctly different classes of buyers, but why it should be a ‘Duty-Free Exclusive' is rather intriguing.

Besides the usual Champagnes from Moet Hennessy, Mumms. VCP  and Piper-Heidsieck etc., wines from Peter Lehman are also advertised rather well. 

The management of Delhi Duty Free must be complimented for initiating the project and one sincerely hopes the arriving passengers would take a look at these counters and possibly pick up a couple of bottles for themselves or their wine drinking friends. Even at these prices, it is worth picking up the two bottles allowed. This could also help drive the market for quality wines, especially when you consider that in Delhi, the excise duty alone might be the same or more than the price displayed on some of these premium wines.

One sincerely hopes there would be a wider choice from this  shop and that the other airports will soon follow the example of giving the option and choice to the returning passengers of carrying 2 liters of wine duty-free.

Subhash Arora



Ladainian Says:

If my problem was a Death Star, this airtlce is a photon torpedo.

Posted @ August 01, 2011 11:43


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