"Indian wine market is healthiest for expansion"

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Oct 20 2008, 03:52am hrs
Steven Spurrier

British Wine Authority & Chairman, Board of Wine Advisors

Wine and Indians are a perfect match. So feels

Steven Spurrier, British wine authority and Chairman, Board of Wine Advisors, The Wine Society of India. However, the ongoing international financial crisis could have a slowdown effect on the wine consumption rate in India, which is growing at 30% annually. Spurrier feels that India along with China and Korea has a new wine consumer market coming up, which is unlike the traditional markets like France. The wine market in India is healthiest for expansion because people enjoy wine here and are opening to wine influence, says Spurrier.

However, despite the growth potential, wine still caters to a niche segment. I was asked some time back in India that why doesnt wine sell here And my answer was simple. Start setting wine glasses on the tables of hotels and restaurants and you will see a rise in the demand for wine, says Spurrier. He also suggests that one doesnt have to buy a full bottle of wine to get the taste of wine. Pointing out that the annual consumption of wine in India is less than 10ml per head hardly two small spoonfuls a year. Only 1% of the country drinks wine, but with a population of 1.15 billion people, that leaves a target market of 11.5 million, and one that is growing just as fast as the number of Indian millionaires.

The variations of wine go well with the variety in the Indian cuisine and wine experts see a lot of scope for growth in India. One of the advantages India has that it produces its own wine and the quality is improving by the day. The other important and favourable factor for India is that unlike other wine producing countries where wineries compete against each other, Indian wineries compete with the world and not against each other, says Spurrier.

The range of wines available in India, despite exuberantly high taxes, is quite large, says Spurrier. Fascinated with Indias history and culture, Spurrier always wanted to come to India as a tourist. On his path to becoming a authority on wine, Steven has been the Founder of lAcadumie du Vin and the Christies Wine Course. He created the famous 1976 Paris wine tasting. The Wine Society of India (WSI) began operations in the last quarter of 2006. The business model is based on the successful programme developed in the US by The Wine Society of America.

Present in Delhi for an evening of wine tasting session organised by the WSI, that has managed to add 1,000 members, Spurrier was delighted to see the serious response from the visitors. With wine clubs opening up in cities, the knowledge about wines is growing, the wine industry and consumption is all set to grow, he adds. And with plans to launch exclusive wine labels, WSI is bubbling with success.