India's wine lovers offer a tasty target to vineyards

In an elegant New Delhi club, Nivedita Singh indulges in a secret vice that she keeps hidden from her parents - she sips a glass of medium-bodied red wine.

"I dedicate my whole weekends to wine," Singh, 25, said. "It eases my stress and I enjoy having a classy and interesting hobby."

Singh says she is proud to be one of a growing number of young Indians who have embraced the etiquette and language of wine, and who are developing an increasingly subtle palate for a spicy Shiraz or a crisp Sancerre.

"Knowing what you drink and how you drink makes all the difference," she told AFP. "My parents, like many of their generation, do not distinguish between wine, beer and hard liquor. I hope they understand some day."

Singh lives in a large extended family where drinking alcohol is forbidden but she is among many affluent Indians who see wine-tasting as a badge of sophisticated glamour.

"As the medical experts tell us, 'wine is good for your health if consumed in prescribed quantities'," she said with a smile. "And that counts for Indian wines too."

Primarily sold in urban centres, the market for Indian wine is about 1.2 million cases a year and the country also imports 200,000 cases from Europe and a small percentage from Australia and the United States.

India, which is the world's largest whisky market, is a tempting target for both domestic and international wine sellers.

"We will easily grow by 30 percent this year. There will be new players in the market and that means healthy competition," said Kapil Grover, owner of Grover Wines, which cultivates 165 hectares (410 acres) of vineyards in the southwestern state of Karnataka.

Grover inherited the estate from his father and has experimented boldly to improve grape cultivation in the hot, humid climate.

Using foreign technology and experienced consultants, he produces wine that he says is now of international standard.

"India has embarked on wine adventure," he explained. "Wine-tasting sessions and wine clubs are spreading through the cities. I attend them often and I hear about 15 new wine companies will be set in India by next year."

Last year, two Italian winemakers became the first foreign producers to invest directly in India, seeking to tap into the emerging sector.

Riona Wines, based in the western state of Maharastra, the country's grape-growing centre, signed joint venture agreements with Italian vintners Moncaro and Enzo Mecella.

The two Italian companies have taken a 17-percent stake each in Riona in exchange for a total investment of 42.5 million dollars this year.

"This is the first time a foreign company is joining hands with an Indian winery to produce and sell wine," marketing director of Riona Wines Hansraj Ahuja told AFP.

They aim to produce and market six varieties of red and white wines for the Indian wine lover.

"There will be stiff competition but we want to make the finest quality of Indian wine" Ahuja said. "Market research points to many young people preferring wine to spirits."

Reva Singh, editor of Sommelier India wine magazine, said the key to success was long-term quality.

"Wine-drinking should not be taken as a fad," she said. "It is a pleasure to last a lifetime."

In the past five years, dozens of wine clubs have appeared in New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities for members to meet to taste and compare different wines.

And smart restaurants, clubs and hotels boast exhaustive collections of imported wine despite the hefty 110 per cent duty for importers - and tax at 20 to 35 percent on the drinker's bill.

"We are heading in the right direction. With a little support, the industry can accelerate growth," said Subash Chopra, head of the Indian Wine Academy, which trains hospitality staff how to handle wine.

He says one area of reform is a priority.

"Every state decides their own alcohol tax formula. It is a complex maze and makes business very tough," he said.

"India is learning a new culture and the government should encourage it."

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The number of GP practices with 10 or more doctors has grown by 75 per cent
science
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager - Holiday Homes - £100,000 OTE

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + £100,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: Birmingham, Derby, L...

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game