Win for wine

As the holiday season approaches, sommeliers and oenophiles find Bengalureans turning to home-grown brands which have cropped up in large numbers during the pandemic

Published: 18th November 2021 04:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st November 2021 07:52 PM   |  A+A-

Abhay Kewadkar

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Once upon a time, wine was considered a sophisticated, upmarket drink. But the pandemic has changed this notion, along with a host of others. Now, Bengalureans are going the European way... uncorking a bottle of wine at the dinner table every other day. This has been made possible with the burgeoning of home-grown brands in a market that was once buzzing with imported wines.  

Sumit Jaiswal, AVP Marketing and Exim at Grover Zampa Vineyards, says that price points (R300 onwards) offered by newly-launched local wines are one of the reasons for its acceptance. “During the lockdown, there was a delay in getting the products and brands had to make-do with left-over stock. That’s probably when Indian wines, like the ones we offer, saw a spike. And it’s been a steady growth since.”

Agrees Madhulika Dhall, founder-director of La Cave India. “More and more people are taking to Indian wines and showing interest in trying them. Though we’re still relatively new at making wine, we are doing a great job and creating brand value. The retail distribution has gone up by 70 per cent. Indian wines are doing much better than before and collaborating with international winemakers. It will take some time to be on par with international standards but we will get there,” says Dhall, who is popularly known as ‘Madame La Cave’.

Home-grown brands are giving Australian, South African, European and Califorinian wines, which were much sought-after, some stiff competition. According to wine consultant Alok Chandra, they followed the UK model where they sell well-made wine at the lowest price. 

“So, with the different changes everyone has gone through, people have realised that they can enjoy this wine at retail price than to go to hotels and pay more for the same. Awareness of retail prices has really helped the way people consume wine now.”

Great flavour. Pocket-friendly. These are the two aspects that Indians keenly look for. In fact, the reasonable pricing of premium wines is one of the reasons the drink has become a favourite among the middle-class crowd. Abhay Kewadkar, managing director of Tetrad Global Beverages, which produces Early Dark, says, “Whether meeting at hotels or organising parties at home, hosts want to serve premium wines. But cost is a very important factor. Brands that are available in India are doing really well in this regard. With fair trade for import and export having gone up four times since the pandemic, export is most likely to begin only next year. For now, retail value for budget-friendly premium wines has gone up.” 

Say cheers

Saritha Hegde, entrepreneur 

  • Indulgent wine: Krsma
  • Go-to wine: Kadu Rose
  • Dessert wine and Christmas special: Chandon 

Husna Sait, designer

  • Indulgent wine - Fratelli Sette
  • Go-to wine - Sula Cabernet Shiraz
  • Dessert wine - Big Banyan Bellissima
  • Christmas special - Mulled wine

Wine pairings

Aslam Gafoor, Hospitality professional

  • With cheese: The soft texture of Brie cheese works best with Champagne or a glass of sparkling wine, and the nutty flavours of Goat Cheese pair well with a Sauvignon Blanc.
  • With Indian food: Becksteiner Winzer Riesling Kabinett Feinherb. This wine belongs to the ‘off dry’ range with a lingering sweetness that’s great with spicy curries.

Vaniitha Jaiin, Wine & Spirits specialist and founder of The Perfect Pour

  • With cheese: White wine. This is an uncommon pairing but when chosen well, a crisp, dry white wine is the ideal partner to fresh and tangy white cheeses.
  • Biryani: Chenin Blanc and Chianti


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