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India market hampered by ‘restrictive’ taxes

India has the potential to play a central role in the future of fine wine consumption in Asia, notwithstanding the large barriers to entry, wine professionals say.

Sula Vineyards. Image courtesy of http://photos.tarunchandel.com

According to Sula Vineyards CEO Rajeev Samant, the demand for fine wine and other luxury goods, particularly from France and Italy, had grown substantially in the last year.

Sales of fine wine had grown at least 5 times in the last 10 years, he told Decanter.com

‘Indians now have a real understanding of luxury. The IT boom has meant that the influential elite in India are now super wealthy and well travelled.’

According to Rajiv Singhal of Fine Publishing India Ltd, who monitors exports of fine wine into India, volume went up 123% in the last five years.

‘There is a 25% year-on-year growth in this category,’ he said.

The major barrier to growth, professionals agree, is the duty regime across India.

‘With 150% tariffs, it makes no sense for the consumer to buy a bottle of Lafite in our retail stores’, Samant said. ‘Tariffs are clearly shrinking the size of this market.’

As for exporters themselves, India is an attractive but frustrating proposition.

‘At present, India represents a very small market for Angélus and for fine wines in general,’ Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angélus – who intends to visit the country twice in the next two years – told Decanter.com.

‘India’s import system is extremely complex and restrictive but as soon as the problems of import duties are resolved then it will be possible to develop this market.’

Written by James Lawrence

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