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
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
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

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits