Last week I wrote about Indians being similar to other Asians in their perception of Rosé wine. A study released by Nielsen India and reported by major newspapers today provides more evidence for what trade professionals have known in India for a while – that Indians have a strong preference for red wine over white. The study says that over eight out of ten Indians prefer red wine. In this clear preference for red wines, Indians are again similar to the Chinese and to some other Asian markets. The Economic Times story ‘Cos wine-tune plan to reach a new high’ has the details.
The newspaper reports did not point to any specific reason for this preference of red wine over white. Anecdotally, however, I can point to at least a few reasons why Indians prefer red wine:
- Over the years media reports about wine’s beneficial effects on health have mainly referred to red wine. As a result red wine is perceived as being healthier than white.
- Because of red wine tends to be fruitier and more structured, the taste of red wine is more accessible and easier to grasp for new wine drinkers. A lot of the wine drinkers in India that I interact with on a daily basis seem to prefer full-bodied, fruit-forward New World wines.
- Maybe because of the colour, red wine is seen as having more of an oomph or kick associated with it!
Another important conclusion of the study is that over 60% of Indians consume wine outside their homes – usually in a pub, restaurant or at a friend’s place. Wine consumption in India is still largely connected with special occasions – birthdays, parties and celebrations. The study’s authors draw the conclusion that wine is considered a “sophisticated and stylish” drink when compared to other alcoholic beverages. With the average annual per capita consumption of wine in India pegged at about 12ml, or a spoonful, the potential for growth is considered phenomenal. The pace of this growth of course will depend on how accessible wine becomes over time – and this is substantially a function of customs and excise duties. Notwithstanding its growing popularity, wine remains a luxury in India. More people would like to drink it regularly, but simply cannot due to prices that are among the highest in the world.