When I was growing up in India, wine was almost unheard of; most Indian used the term “wine” to also mean hard liquor such as rum or whisky. Even now, India’s largest circulation newspaper carried a story about wine shops and talks mostly about scotch and such. But wine drinking is catching up among the upwardly mobile urban consumers, male and female. 80 percent of the sales are from domestic makers, such as Grover.
California wines such as E&J Gallo, Brown & Forman, Constellation, Robert Mondavi and Kendall-Jackson are available in a limited manner, partly due to high import duties. I also hear about wines from Argentina, Australia, Chile France and South Africa, mostly in Mumbai and Delhi. The Financial Times reports that Australia’s Global Wines & Spirits is offering fine wines at Rs1,200 ($30) a bottle in a joint venture with India’s Kimaya. And to avoid import duties, Mauritius-based French company E. C. Oxenham and Cy entered the market with Nirvana Biosys to produce wines in India using imported grape juice concentrates from Italy and France.
Takeaway: India’s habits are changing, but slowly. Products seen to be exotic can gain acceptance progress can be slow at first.