Tipple Tales: Is wine in India getting a booster shot in 2022?

With a range of ‘wine-in-can’ options, opening of wine bars and the launch of some exciting new labels coupled with innovative wine events, wine in India may receive a major boost this year.

One way that the pandemic has benefited the drinks industry is by opening up online liquor/wine sales channels in multiple states. For the longest time wine as a category has been fighting to be treated separately from spirits. However, over the years, this gradual shift towards becoming a lifestyle product has helped open new avenues for wine in India.

A recent market study (by Technavio, leading global technology research, and advisory company) indicated that the wine market in India is set to be worth USD 274 million between 2022 and 2026. This includes domestic as well as imported wines. It is expected to grow at 29.3 percent this year, which is one of the highest in the drinks category. 

Let’s look at some of the factors that are contributing to this growth in wine consumption.

Wine-in-can

Tilt wine-in-can has been a hit with millennial drinkers.
TiLT wine-in-can has been a hit with millennial drinkers.

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In 2020, Fratelli Vineyards launched five variants of TiLT wine-in-can. The wines were refreshing, easy on the palate as well as on the pocket. It certainly stirred the wine market and grabbed the attention of this new category. Before TiLT, it was DIA Sparkler (the off-dry style, semi-sparkling wine from Sula) followed by Noi Spritzer by Fratelli that had paved the way for this category. However, in the last two years, the in-a-can space is picking up momentum with brands such as Barokes from Australia introducing premium wines in a can. Great packaging, portability, fruity taste and quirky marketing aimed at making wine more consumer friendly and targeted towards “mindful millennials” with an accessible range is what is going to drive this trend further this year.

Old wine, new look

The new visual identity of fratelli wines.
The new visual identity of Fratelli Wines.

A new-world wine market is as much label-conscious as any old-world wine market, however, there comes a time when even a new-world wine needs a makeover. The proof is in the recent revamping of labels of India’s number one wine producer Sula’s premium wine range Rasa and Fratelli’s single varietal range. Rasa, plugged as one of the best premium Indian wines since 2007, got a sleek, modernistic, and elegant new look for the label available in three variants: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. While the Cabernet and Zinfandel are in Bordeaux-style bottles, the Shiraz has a Burgundy-bottle design. The Rasa wines are aged for 12 months in French oak barrels and further spend some time in the bottle before release.

Rasa, sula's premium wine range, was revamped recently.
Rasa, Sula’s premium wine range, was revamped recently.

India’s third-largest wine producer Fratelli got a new visual identity last year. The look was envisioned by the late Kapil Sekhri, who is also one of the seven founding members of the Fratelli family. The company wanted to put forth the story of brotherhood and passion shared by the three families involved in the business. The label features an illustration of a family portrait of the Secci brothers from Italy and the Sekhri and Mohite-Patil brothers from India. The design makes the range more appealing to a wider new-age wine drinker.  

Focus on wine tourism

The source at sula, the resort at sula vineyards in nashik.
The Source at Sula, the resort at Sula Vineyards in Nashik.

Wine tourism in India may have seemed like a distant dream a few decades back, but thanks to Sula Vineyards, Soma Bangalore, Grover Zampa, Fratelli, York Winery, Soma Vine Village, Vallonne Vineyards, Chandon and Reveilo (Vintage wines), Indian wine lovers have many options to choose from for a holiday or weekend getaway. Most of these wineries offer excellent services with guided tours, customised tastings with meals, leisurely strolls and vineyard stays. Grape stomping, music festivals and many other activities held during the harvest season as well as the year-round packages are certainly continuing to attract the Indian wine enthusiasts to these vineyards located in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Wellness & wine 

The concept of wine and wellness has prevailed for centuries in the western world; however, the millennial drinker in India has woken up to this aspect of wine only recently. In the last few years, the consciousness has moved beyond drinking a glass of red wine for the benefit of heart health or longevity to drinking clean and natural. While for the health-conscious, low alcohol wines are getting trendy, for the environmentalists and a more aware wine drinker, organic and biodynamic wines are gaining top priority. Almost every wine importer in the country now has multiple organic/biodynamic/vegan wines produced with sustainable viticulture, offering a wide range of choices for connoisseurs. Although climatic conditions in India don’t allow us to practice organic or biodynamic viticulture, producers such as Sula Vineyards have been aggressively propagating sustainable vineyard and winery management for the last few years. This is one trend that we are certainly expecting to continue further.  

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Wine education & promotion

The growing consumer base of wine in India has inspired several curated wine events revolving around tastings, wine dinners, trade fairs, festivals, and education programmes. More and more bars and restaurants are now offering wine specific menus or engaging with constructive wine programmes at the outlets. There are events organised by outlets, wine companies, educators, sommeliers, writers, independent wine professionals and consultants that are not only instrumental in creating awareness, but are also acting as game changers in terms of pushing wine sales. Emerging out of the pandemic induced silence, a long list of fairs and festivals are scheduled to make it a noisy 2022 for wine lovers in India.

Overall, the time has come for discerning wine consumers to make more conscious and responsible consumption choices in India.

Rojita tiwari drinks columnist 1
Rojita Tiwari is the Founder and Director of Drinks & Destinations, a drinks event and consulting firm. She is an award-winning drinks writer, educator, trainer & consultant and also a juror at several international wine, spirits & cocktail competitions. She is a Senior Specialist at International Drinks Specialist, UK and co-founder of Agents Of Cheer & Story In A Bottle, India’s foremost curated drinks events. Her Instagram handle is @rojitatiwari.

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