India and all things Indian are becoming increasingly sought after. The food industry has already accepted curries as an essential on their menus and so has the fashion world with Indian fabrics, motifs and such. The newest kid on the block seems to be wines made in India. They are not what you can call popular yet but seem to be getting closer to the winning line like the proverbial tortoise.
India has been making wine for ages, although this has been a well kept secret from even the Indian populace. It only caters to a small section of the society, since consumption of alcohol is not an activity that is encouraged in many households. However, in recent times, wine drinking has become associated with status and refinement among the well-read, well-travelled segment of India.
Over a period of time, Indian wines have made a silent, yet persistent foray into connoisseurs’ clubs globally. India currently exports wine to Britain and Italy in Europe, further west to the States and also its neighbhour and competitor China, besides a scattering of a few other countries.
A mere four hour drive from Mumbai takes you to Nashik, the Wine Capital of India. The hilly terrain and cool climes of this region, similar to Bordeaux, France, are perfect for growing the best wine yielding grapes. The Indian wine offering boasts of some very good varieties like Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chantili and Cabarnet Shiraz in addition to some excellent sparkling varieties. The quality, flavor, color and fullness of these wines are almost world class. Consequently, there are now a handful wholesalers and retailers in the States who are ordering Indian wines for their shelves. Sula, Good Earth and Indage Vintners are some of the better known brands.
Wine of India Wholesale is an importer and distributor of Indian wines operating in the New York City. Yash Shah, President of Sales and Marketing, says popularizing Indian Wines in New York has been an uphill task and the primary reason is lack of awareness. People do not know that India is making wines and great ones at that. In fact, there is a lot of skepticism about quality standards maintained and people do not equate high quality products like wines with India. Even seasoned indophiles don’t think of India when it comes to buying or ordering wines. On the Upper East Side, Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits does not stock Indian wines simply because nobody asks for them.
In spite of all the roadblocks, Indian wines are slowly and steadily getting known and popular. Wine of India Wholesale has managed to place Indian wines in about 75 restaurants and liquor stores throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City and Long Island. Though Cristiano Andrade, general manager and wine director at Sea Grape Wine Shop in the West Village, wasn’t impressed by some Indian wines he tasted in the past, the recent batches of wines coming from India have made their mark on him. Andrade did a tasting and was happy enough with the response to order some.
People are curious about Indian wines but not really talking about them. They like them but uncertain about choosing the Indian wine. It is still a novelty and will take a bit of concentrated marketing to make wine lovers sit up and take notice. One thing is established, Indian wines are here and the only way forward is up.
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