Beverage: Consumption of wine in India is on an upswing. As for that, most Indians say, give me red

In the land of Patiala pegs, grape-based wines seem to have caught a fancy. Yet again.

Vinexpo, a top-of-the line exhibition created by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1981 for international operators in the wine and spirits sector, has just come up with its forecast for India for the next five years which points at grape-based wine consumption all set to have an assumed growth of 73.5 per cent. If you remember, there was a Nasik-based winery called Chateau Indage which used to make a range of lovely wines. But after it closed down in 2009-2010, the grape-based wine market in the country took a beating.

Now, the latest Vinexpo study states, wine consumption in India has claimed 16.3 percent of the market.

“The 11.8 percent growth in 2012 continued in 2013 (16.3 per cent), apparently signalling the end of a period of several years of decreasing consumption in India that ensued after Indage Group closed its doors,” says the study, released the other day in Delhi.

And yes, what we have always suspected has also been underlined by it: that Indians prefer red over white. It says, “More than 61 percent of the wines drunk in India are red and this segment is expected to grow by 71.6 percent between 2013 and 2017.”

White wine drinkers will also claim a good share of the market by and by. “Pushed by local production, the consumption of white wine should also increase (in India) by 71 percent in the same period.” Furthermore, the study forecasts that Indian sparkling wine consumption will double in the next five years.

Though the number of Indian wine makers is on the rise, one out of four wine bottles consumed in India is imported still. On top of this list is Australia. While Italian and Chilean wines have gained ground, French wines seem to have failed to create much interest in Indian consumers.

Responding to a query, Rajiv Singhal of Vinexpo says, “While the growth of local wines is usually seen as a driver for wine consumption in India, we must remember that the Indian wine market is only about 20 years in development. They should not be seen in competition with the international brands yet.”

Singhal points out, “In wine, its all about the sense of place — the terroir. The evolution of Indian wines is very important. And that is why this survey projects the growth of wine in India to be 71.6 per cent between 2013 and 2017.”

The Vinexpo study, conducted with International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR) since the last 12 years covering 28 producing countries and 114 consumer markets, has been a point of reference in the industry worldwide. Established in 1971, The IWSR database is said to be one of the widest and most detailed sources of information on the global market for alcoholic beverages.

Focusing on the pattern of consumption in India — a market increasingly being looked at with interest by international players, the study has highlighted a significant increase in spirits consumption in the country — by 73.7 percent between 2008 and 2012.

“Indian spirits consumption will continue to grow over the next five years, reaching a total of 373.5 million 9-litre cases by 2017, up 20.5 percent compared to 2013.” The cause given for this growth is “largely the result of a 155.47 per cent jump in brandy consumption between 2008 and 2012 and that of Scotch, which doubled (up 109.75 per cent) in the same period.”

This stations India in the fifth position in Asia in the list of spirits importers. And if this trend continues, by 2017, it might overtake Thailand.

Though Scotch whiskey consumption seems to have gone up in India, the study doesn’t have any specific numbers for this segment.

This detailed research has however set off the countdown for the Vinexpo Asia-Pacific which is to take place in Hong Kong from May 27 to 29 this year.

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