Indian wines star in UK press

Fratelli Chenin Blanc

Jancis Robinson MW said that a recent tasting panel, which was focusing on Indian wines, decided that, “overall, Indian whites are better than the reds – although since storage conditions constitute wine’s greatest enemy after taxation in India, it may be that whites, generally sold younger than reds, have an inbuilt advantage.”

The judges declared “Fratelli Chenin Blanc” the best wine presented to the panel, with Robinson saying: “I’d happily drink Fratelli Chenin Blanc, made in a new wine region 140km south of Pune, whether in India or not.”

One Response to “Indian wines star in UK press”

  1. Ian Hutton says:

    The two factors that are holding back Indian wine are poor storage conditions after leaving the winery, which affects the white wines particularly, and high cost relative to other alcoholic beverages. Many local retail outlets have no experience in storing wine (as opposed to spirits or beer) and lack climate controlled storage facilities. Needless to say a typical Sauvignon blanc isn’t going to survive too well stored at an ambient temperature of 30 C for six months or more. This means that a lot of wine served in restaurants in India or purchased for home consumption is oxidized so the inexperienced drinker will never appreciate what the fresh product should taste like. A tip here from someone who spends six months a year in India – check the ‘manufacturing date’ on the back label, it will tell you when the wine was bottled at the winery, so you can minimize the effects of poor storage. Indian reds tend to be fairly robust and storage isn’t such a major issue.

    The second factor that impacts on the success of Indian wine in India is it’s relatively high cost. The typical retail cost of a bottle of wine from a major producer is Rs 500 to Rs 800, in pounds sterling that is £7 to £10 a bottle, which is considerable more than the average per bottle spend on wine in the UK. In comparison, a bottle of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (eg Bacardi rum or Smirnoff vodka) is around Rs 350 and a local spirit brand around Rs 160. Although bar markups tend to be lower in India, you could reckon on paying Rs 1,200 to Rs 2,000 for a quality Indian wine in a restaurant.

    In the twenty years or so that I have been sampling Indian wine I can say that the quality has gone up immeasurably, and all of the top varietal wines are ‘correct’, however they can’t yet compete with European or New world wines in the same price category. However, given the rules of supply and demand it is unlikely that prices will come down and in fact most producers have increased then by as much as 50% in the past year.

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