India: So who is drinking what?
The most amazing thing about wine, at least this far from Delhi (I am up north in the large city of Chandigarh) is people's perceptions of it. They, at least the locals I have met, do not know exactly what wine is. They assume it is a sort of whiskey, and a high priced one at that.
When I had a chance to share wine with them they were delighted with the taste, although to be fair I started them off with a slightly sweet white. This is a beginner wine for many people, and it was well received here, and went nicely with the local foods.
People here drink whiskey, and they drink it with nibbles before a meal. Drinking wine with the dinner was not something they had ever thought of doing. In fact drinking wine at all was something they had not thought of doing.
Almost every block there is a store that sells liquor and beer, and while the signs say they have wine, none actually do. Only a few stores carry wine at all, and their selection is very small.
That is not surprising given that most of the people in India I have met have no idea what wine is. The few restaurants that have wine listed have "both kinds" red and white, and nothing more descriptive than that.
The wines made in India are not bad, but they are very expensive. In a country where a hair cut cost $1.50 a $12 bottle of wine is an investment that few consider worth the risk.
It is changing. The ultra rich are drinking the big name labels, as they always do. The middle classes are ordering Dominos pizzas in their Levi jeans over their cell phones, and sooner or later they are going to start equating wine with their lifestyles.
Once India gets a taste for wine, watch out, there is a huge potential market here, if you are very, very patient, or very, very proactive.