Happy Diwali with a bottle of good cheer!

Happy Diwali with a bottle of good cheer!

New Delhi: As new millionaires join the Indian middle class each year, premium wines and liquor consumption is on the rise. This is more evident at festival time when popping a bottle of bubbly or gifting one is seen as a mark of celebration and high lifestyle.

But we’re not just talking about champagnes — premium single malts like Blue Label and Glenfiddich, or a bottle of imported French, premium red or white wine and even liquor like Bailey’s Irish Cream are all being increasingly carried by guests while wishing their hosts a bright and sparkling Diwali. Once considered taboo, alcohol is now de rigueur for celebrations.

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93c1e82a-9852-11dd-875d-000b5dabf613.flvSiddharth Banerjee, MD, Kyndal India, an importer of premium liquor brands like Absolut Vodka and Piper Heidsieck champagne, says that alcohol has gained greater acceptability in Indian households. “You see more people gifting it now," he says. Though he adds that it’s the premium category that is generally reserved for gifting.

Industry experts say that while premium whisky and scotch have always been the popular choice other options are catching up too, and people are willing to experiment more. It’s not uncommon for people these days to gift malts, premium vodkas and liquors.

Wines (considered a softer form of alcohol) are gaining in popularity in comparison to harder forms of alcohol like vodkas, whiskies and rums. Women in particular favour wine for its subtle taste versus other forms of alcohol that can be more bitter and burning in nature.

Of course, wines are also further helped by the aura of refinement that is generally associated with wine consumption. A champagne like Cristal or Krug is considered to be synonymous with luxury while being able to tell your pinot noir from a merlot or cabernet in the case of a red wine (or, being able to tell a chardonnay from a chenin blanc in a bottle of white) signifies an air of refinement versus simply being someone who can afford a bottle of wine.

India’s biggest wine exporter, Brindco’s executive director, Aman Dhall, says that the concept of gifting wines in India has certainly become more popular. Most of the gifting takes place in the Rs800-1500 range and mostly among corporates. “We see retail wines sales increase on Diwali. And we know for a fact that a number of these bottles are being used for gifting as well," says Dhall.

Dhall isn’t alone — many industry players say that they see a 10-20% jump in sales around Diwali — both on account of consumption and gifting. It seems that as Indians aspire for a global lifestyle, one will see more and more people saying cheers every festival season than before.