Will lower import duties lead to a boom in consumption of imported wine in India?

Reports continue to trickle in about the impending cuts in India’s import duties on wine and spirits from the EU, as part of the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) currently being negotiated. This latest report from the Economic Times mentions that the government of India (GOI) plans to reduce the duties on imported wines and spirits down to 75% from the current 150%. Apparently the EU is not happy with this plan and wants the custom duties reduced to around 30% citing the fact that high state excise duties will still keep EU wines and spirits very expensive. The article mentions that the GOI may further bring down import duties on some alcohol to 40% over a period of a few years after the implementation of the FTA.

Will halving import duties to 75% from the current 150%+ lead to a boom in consumption of imported wine in India? I doubt it. Continue reading

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Images From Our Wine Course in Mumbai

WSET Level-2 Wine Course at Trident BKC, Mumbai

I recently taught a 3-day wine course in Mumbai (under the WSET Level-2 Intermediate Certificate Program). The course was attended by 12 eager candidates from the trade (hotels, restaurants, importers).

The course was held at Trident Bandra-Kurla from March 16th-18th. Over 35 wines from around the world were served as part of the course. Continue reading

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Sweet Surprise

This article by me originally appeared in India Today Spice in the October 2011 issue.

Photo Courtesy and Copyright: Chateau Coutet

The grapes hang on the vines till well past harvest time in September, going from ripe to over-ripe. Mist from the nearby river envelopes the vineyard every morning, blanketing the grapes in humidity. Seemingly forgotten by the winemaker, the grapes in the cold, damp conditions attract Botrytis – a kind of rot. Are these grapes fated to be churned into compost, or are they destined for some of the most glorious wine in the world? That the answer is the latter is one of the wine world’s sweet surprises. Continue reading

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Bored in Bordeaux? Head to Bar à Vin

Bordeaux is one of France’s underrated cities. Reviewing cities for weekend breaks, one travel writer wrote that he would rather stay at home and clean the fridge than go to Bordeaux! As one of the capital cities of wine, a UNESCO world heritage city, and as one of the stops in my honeymoon itinerary in 2009 – I have a soft-spot for Bordeaux. Much smaller than Paris, the city is cozy, charming, and pedestrian-friendly. I was in Bordeaux again for two weeks earlier this month – my first trip their since 2009. This time it was the winter and I happened to be visiting alone. So, what does a wine professional do after a hard day’s work tasting wine? Well, in my case I often decided to head downtown to the area around the ‘Grand Théâtre’. The Grand Théâtre itself is an architectural gem. But who has the time for architecture when wine bars and wine shops beckon. Continue reading

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Bordeaux’s Wine, China, and Négociants

There is clearly a feeling in the Bordeaux wine industry of having been ‘saved by China’. This is the inescapable vibe I got during nearly two weeks in Bordeaux meeting dozens of winemakers and owners of Petits Chateaux. While the obsession of the rich Chinese with Chateau Lafite and other classed-growth wines is well known, less well known is the fact that even entry-level wines, Petits Châteaux and branded Bordeaux wines have benefited from China’s appetite for Bordeaux wines. This is one tide that has raised all boats in Bordeaux. Five years ago, China ranked as the 10th largest importer of Bordeaux’s wines. China now ranks as the number one market for Bordeaux wines. Continue reading

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Is Hong Kong Asia’s Wine Hub?

The following article written by me first appeared on the Sommelier India Wine Magazine website here.

Hong Kong is many things: a modern city steeped in history, a gateway to greater China, a free port, a trading hub, and a culinary destination. Its aspiration though is to be the ‘wine hub’ of Asia. Is it already there? That depends on how a wine hub is defined. For many, Japan remains Asia’s most sophisticated wine market. But Hong Kong is becoming famous for setting wine records – usually related to high-prices fetched for wine at auctions.

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A lesson for Indian wineries – via China

Jia Bei Lan, Bordeaux Blend 2009, Ningxia Province, China

I’ve never tasted this wine, nor had I heard of it before. But the October 2011 issue of Decanter magazine held a big surprise that made me sit up and take notice. A wine from China (Jia Bei Lan, Bordeaux Blend 2009) had won the trophy in the Bordeaux Blend over £10 category at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). Decanter’s competition is one of the more comprehensive (over 12,000 wines entered) and prestigious competitions of the world. Continue reading

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