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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 14:12 GMT
Indian wine takes on the world

Wine producing factory
Some Indian wines have won prizes abroad

By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

The Indian wine industry may still be in its infancy, but it is hoping to challenge the supremacy of winemaking countries in an effort to gain a foothold in the international wine market.

Though they get most of their technology and advice from Europe, Indian winemakers are now promoting themselves in a big way to catch the attention of the rest of the world.

Women pressing wine Pressing grapes at a wine festival in the Ghats
One of India's main wine-growing companies - Chateau Indage - recently organised a wine festival in the picturesque western Ghats valley near Bombay.

Chateau Indage makes 12 types of wine, including its own champagne-style sparkling wine.

Brand name

Though India offers an ideal climate for winemaking and Indian wines have also won many prizes abroad, the biggest challenge for companies like Chateau Indage is to make wine lovers around the world comfortable with the Made in India tag.

When they see Made in India, they won't say what a weird idea. They'll say: Fantastic!
Wine expert Oz Clarke
Oz Clarke, one of the presenters of the BBC's Food and Drink programme, says that western wine drinkers are some of the most imaginative wine drinkers in the world.

"England in particular, but also Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Norway - those kind of countries are desperate for new experiences," he says.

"I think when they see Made in India, they won't say: What a weird idea. They'll say: Fantastic! I haven't tried it. Give me some."

Per capital wine consumption
France 60 litres
Italy 59 litres
Spain 37 litres
UK 24 litres
India 0.007 litres
The other challenge for winemakers in India is to develop a domestic market as most Indians prefer beer, whiskey, rum and sometimes even home-brewed spirits over champagne and wine.

Domestic demand

Per capita consumption of wine in India is very low, according to Sham Chougule, the chairman of Chateau Indage.

"It's about half a teaspoon per head," he says.

"The day it becomes one litre, the market will be one billion litres."

Grapes More vineyards are being planted
The potential is clearly huge and so are the rewards of better international acceptance and even a small increase in domestic demand.

And if the increasing number of vineyards being planted in parts of western and southern India are any indication, the day may not be far away when India is taken seriously as a wine-growing nation.

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20 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Cuban cigars are big puff in India

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