On several previous occasions, I have written about the lack of availability of reliably stored mature wine in India. Even if there are wine lovers with the means to buy expensive mature bottles of fine wine, they would have to turn abroad to do this. Of course, Indian importers could import mature bottles of fine wine and put these on the market. However, some quick calculations will make it clear that this is not an economically viable proposition for importers. Even if they were to import the wine, they would need to sell it at a sufficiently profitable margin. The duty and excise structure would make these wines very expensive in India. As such, there simply is not a critical mass of consumers that would be willing to pay such high prices for mature fine wine. Even if there were, the retail infrastructure is quite poor and it would be hard to find a quality retailer to carry the stock. That leaves the on-trade channels: hotels and restaurants would inevitably heap their exorbitant margins on top of the already high duties and taxes, making mature fine wine in Indian restaurants only a rich fool’s indulgence. There are currently not enough of those around to be considered a viable target market.
However, the market will evolve with time, storage will improve, excise structure in places like Delhi will be rationalized (let’s pray!!) – though customs duties are likely to stay at the highest level permitted by the WTO! Eventually, like China – India too will become a viable market for mature fine wine. This is when storage companies like Octavian and the Bordeaux City Bond will become important for Indian traders, importers and maybe even for high net worth individuals. If you’re a wine lover with plenty of cash and even more patience, I would highly recommend buying fine ageworthy wine abroad and storing it duty-free in bond in a place like the Bordeaux City Bond. Bordeaux based wine writer Jane Anson has written and excellent article profiling the Bordeaux City Bond. Click here to read that article.