The news on the ground is that the adverse events of the past year have caused wine sales to drop drastically in Delhi and other metros, but the sale of spirits is higher than ever before! Now, what could account for this turn of affairs? Is wine, bottle for bottle, more costly to drink? At which end of the market is whisky selling better than wine?
The household that spends on single malts and fine wine is unlikely to have given up on their favourite tipple whatever it is. At the mid-level, however, which accounts for the vast majority, my guess is that people are trading down as they tighten their belts, but not (atleast, I hope not) giving up on wine altogether! The rush for whisky over wine is probably at the level where alcohol is something you knock down to get knocked out!
Last night I was introduced to Spanish wines from Murcia and the Monastrell grape. Contributor Harshal Shah was already working on an article on this varietal in his ongoing series, and by a happy coincidence, we had six wine producers introducing their wines to us in person, paired with Indian food at The Lalit. The wines from Murcia were not restricted to Monastrell, of course. In fact, I tasted a wonderful new sip from Casa de la Ermita that was 100% Petit Verdot, which I’d never had before, except in very small quantities in some Bordeaux blends.
Wine producers from the old world continue to visit us in India, even though many return disappointed at the difficult market and sluggish sales. They realise they have to be patient and not expect a quick return on their investment. To make money, they need to look to other export markets like the US, Australia and even China. And India will reward them later.
For us, on the other hand, they offer a wonderful opportunity to develop our palate with something new and different.