The imported wine market in India was at about 420,000 nine-litre cases in 2017, according to International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR), a leading source of data and analysis on the alcohol beverage market. In comparison, Indians consumed 193.1 million nine-litre cases of whisky in 2016. But the Indian imported wine market is estimated to be growing steadily at 15% CAGR in the last three years, making a case for international winemakers to expand their business in India.

Pernod Ricard, the owners of Jacob’s Creek and the world’s second-largest producer of spirits, launched its second wine in India last summer—the Campo Viejo wines from the Rioja region in Spain. Buoyed by the reception, the company is set to launch wines from Brancott Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand, in a couple of months, according to Bruno Rain, chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, who was in India recently. While the Campo Viejo wines are priced from 1,540 (Bengaluru) to 2,000 (Mumbai), the company is targeting the 2,000-2,200 segment with the wines from New Zealand.

“Imported wine in India is still a small market but it is growing steadily, so we see ourselves expanding our portfolio in India and bringing in wine from different countries of origin," says Rain. “In the last six years, the category has doubled in terms of volume. At that rate, it would be safe to assume that the imported wines will be a one million cases market in the next decade."

Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are your views on the Indian wine industry? Though it’s growing, it is still a nascent market. Why is that so, and when do you think that is going to change?

The consumer and their taste don’t change overnight. Introduction of new tastes and flavours takes time to catch up in the market as we have seen with a lot of countries. So there is nothing surprising about it in India.

But India is expanding. With increasing exposure and purchasing power, people are thinking about wine more seriously. More women are enjoying wine, so it is a good time to be here.

Is the Indian climate suitable for winemaking? Are you planning to make wines here or include some of the local wines in your portfolio in the years to come?

I am sure local wines have good potential to grow and improve in quality. The main emphasis in winemaking is on finding the right terroir. There are some regions in India where you can make good wines.

And if they keep improving, like they have been, we might have a local wine from here in our global portfolio.

What are Pernod Ricard’s plans for India in the wine segment?

India is a priority market for us with a clear potential. Right now we have wines from three countries in our portfolio. We are focusing on expanding it. It will take us some time, so it is the medium- to long-term view. As a group, we have a larger portfolio, so depending on the growth of the three regions, we will continue to extend our portfolio.

Tell us about the two wines you are planning to launch in India.

The Brancott Estate in the Marlborough region of south islands is among the pioneers in winemaking in New Zealand. We are launching two variants from the estate in India in August: the fruity and fresh sauvignon blanc and the robust pinot noir. We were among the first estates to blend a sauvignon blanc in Marlborough, which has won several awards in the past. So we are very excited to launch these wines in India.

How do you plan to make wine more accessible in India?

There is a clear potential here. We need to be patient and widen the offerings. We need to reach out to the consumer here with wines from different regions. But apart from expanding our presence in India, there are no other India-specific plans at the moment.

Does Indian food pair well with wines?

There are so many different kinds of wine that I am sure some must pair well with the Indian food. Jacob’s Creek Sparkling, for example, won an award for being the best wine paired with butter chicken in 2017.

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