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Wine attracts wealthy Indians in rising numbers

January 2007
Wine attracts wealthy Indians in rising numbers

Speaking of affluent Indians, there is actually a publication called UpperCrust, which describes itself as "India's food, style and wine magazine." And Sommelier India, launched in 2005, is apparently the country's first publication devoted exclusively to wine and oenophiles. "With wine consumption in India projected to grow 10-fold over the next decade, the nation has emerged as the world's fastest-growing market," declared Business 2.0 magazine last year. The annual growth rate has been 25 percent or more since 1998 and, according to industry figures, Indians currently drink 6 million cases. France consumes a whopping 320 million cases, although the population is only 60 million. Even the U.S., with its much greater population, doesn't come close to matching France.

Though India does import wine, about 85 percent is made locally by its own thriving wine industry. Nashik Valley in Maharashtra, the leading domestic producer, has at least 19 wineries and can be seen as the Napa Valley of subcontinent. Sula Vineyards, with over 300 acres under grape cultivation, is a major player that even exports wine to the West. Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab also have vineyards. When it comes to consumption, Mumbai and Delhi are the top cities in India.

Incidentally, Tamarai in London became the first Indian restaurant to win the well-known Food Oscar for having the best wine list. Does this mean that drinking wine with Chicken Tikka Masala, Britain's unofficial national dish, will become de rigueur?

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