Wine Talk

Snooth User: Charles Emilio

Indians 'want sweeter wines'

Posted by Charles Emilio, Feb 10, 2010.


After China, India is going to be the next biggest growth market. How will there preferences drive the way wine is produced in the next decade ??


Importers need to research the taste profiles of what Indian consumers would like to drink instead of pushing European-style wines, Robert Joseph has said.
Speaking to Harpers following a debate on the state of the Indian wine market at the Taste Food & Wine Conference in Mumbai, Joseph, chair of the Indian Wine Challenge, said: "European-style wines are not necessarily what the Indian consumer likes.

"You can't expect them to like Bordeaux.

"Indians tend to have a sweet tooth and wines with 11 grams of sugar may be better suited.

"Maybe importers should find out their consumers' taste preferences and tailor brands accordingly if they want to grow their market share."

But Nishant Kapoor, general manager of The Wine Society of India, disagrees: "I think it is too early to research taste profiles. The Indians currently drinking wine are aware of wine regions and brands, and France is still important to them for the status it holds.

"More than anything they need labels they can pronounce so as not to lose face when ordering a wine."

Loic Dennulin, director of Sopexa India, confirmed that French wine holds a 45% market share of imported wines by volume in India and Bordeaux is very active.

He said some wineries such as Aimery Sieur D'arques and Tableaux wines, present at the Taste Conference, have developed wines "specifically targeted at the Chinese and Indian consumer." The wines have less tannin and are sweeter.

Joseph also criticised the industry for making it the consumer's job to learn about wine.

"If you take music, people don't go to school to learn how to read music. They know what they like and will listen to what they like - whether that means Coldplay or Beethoven and it shouldn't be any different with wine," he said.

Joseph added that: "With the risk of sawing myself off by the knees, I feel that we should introduce a separate criteria [in the Indian Wine Challenge] for judges to assess wines such as Blossom Hill. The wines don't win medals but they are brands people like to drink."


Reply by GregT, Feb 10, 2010.

They're right based on my research. I wanted to sell some wine in India so we had a number of focus tastings where they prepared some food that they would normally have and we brought in some wines. Overwhelmingly the preferences were for white and sweet.

And I must say, I agreed. Red wines didn't seem to work too well, which is what I've always thought.

The other thing I found was that there's a distinct preference for higher alcohol. They explained that they felt they were being cheated if they didn't get a good alcoholic boost.

Just a small sampling, but it was interesting.

Reply by zufrieden, Feb 10, 2010.

Interesting comment. I'm not surprised that you found Indian drinkers more interested in the principal active ingredient than waxing poetic on tannin structure, balance, acidity and bouquet. The reason for this is actually quite simple. When it comes to cachet, Indians and Chinese are aware of the importance of provenance and reputation, but they do not seem to have developed a tradition, if you will, for wine appreciation. That pastime requires a solid middle and upper middle class of educated professionals with an exposure to fine alcoholic beverages at a young age (often in college).

But like anyone seeking some down-time, they do appreciate the effects of ethyl alcohol. That's the common denominator. Over time, as the wine industry grows (in the Ghats, for example) and the wealth of the nation grows and is distributed more equitably, you will see a shift toward more discerning palates. I saw this transformation in Canada once the infant wine industry in BC and Ontario began to produce more quality product and the level of wine and spirts knowledge grew with more travel and education.

Change is definitely on the horizon, my friends.

Reply by Charles Emilio, Feb 10, 2010.

Who will provide this sweet wine when their is a big demand for it?

Have the Australians (being located quite clos) learnt their lesson following market trends (i.e Parker) or perhaps it will be foreign investors planting more vines in India and producing locally made wine with a little chaptalization and smart branding?


Reply by zufrieden, Feb 10, 2010.

It won't be the Bordeaux (Sauternes); the demand may be there but the supply isn't. Australia could try - as you hint they might for all the pounding they took for listening to Parker and Company, but I doubt it. It's more likely that sweet wines could be made right in India to suit the developing palate for such product.

A recioto-style just might be the ticket...

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