The great wine merchant, Andre Simon, used to say that “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”
It was with that notion and wine’s wonderful ability to bring all peoples together that led wine importer, Brindco’s La Cave, the Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI), and the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recently come together to promote American wines through their ‘United Wines of America’ campaign.
India is steadily becoming a major consumer of wine with nation-wide consumption estimated at over 30 million litres per year. Traditionally, whiskey and beer have dominated alcohol consumption in India.
However, the rise in disposable incomes, rapid urbanisation, access to reasonably priced domestic wines, and changing consumer preferences have led to a significant increase in wine consumption.
While Indian wines encompass the majority of local consumption, international wines are growing in popularity and importance as Indian wine consumers become sophisticated and seek greater variety.
In 2019, India imported nearly US$ 22 million in wine, primarily from Australia, Chile, South Africa, the European Union (France, Italy and Spain), and the United States.
Recognising India’s growing thirst for international wines, the ‘United Wines of America’ campaign was launched to promote the diversity and unique taste of US wines to a new generation of Indian wine enthusiasts.
In the US, as in many parts of the globe, wine lovers take part in wine trails, touring various wineries within the same region, to experience new wines and enjoy life.
While many of us may not have the chance to visit amazing US wine regions such as Napa, California or Colombia Valley, Washington, ‘United Wines of America’ aims brings these regions and their experiences to India without the visit.
During February 5-25, Mumbai wine enthusiasts engaged in their own American wine trail experience by visiting participating restaurants that featured US wines by the glass and bottles at a special price.
These restaurants included Hopscork, Cin Cin, Masala Library, Hemant Oberoi, Masque, Qualia, The Wine Rack, and The Table.
The campaign allowed consumers to experience America’s diverse wine regions harmoniously paired with each restaurant’s menu, demonstrating how US wine pairs perfectly with Indian cuisine, among others.
It highlighted to consumers how a region’s land and climate (terroir) imparts unique characteristics into the wine grape that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Mumbai wine lovers experienced offerings from renowned wineries from the states of California, Oregon, and Washington; including Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Château Ste. Michelle, Two Vines, Erath Wines, Caymus Vineyards, Duckhorn Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars, Kendall Jackson and Francis Ford Coppola Wines.
The selection showed Mumbaikars the different styles and full spectrum of American wine, confirming the US as one of the finest “New World” wine producing countries.
Mumbaikars were delighted and surprised by the variety of flavours they experienced, noting the differences between US wines and wines from sources they have tried before.
Indeed, they experienced the true expression of American wine personified by the values of passion, innovation and generosity.
During the campaign’s inaugural event, Mr Lazaro Sandoval, USDA’s Senior Agricultural Attaché, exclaimed that as a California native it was a distinct honour and privilege for him to share the best of America’s wines in India.
He added that USDA would continue to find new and innovative ways to educate Indian consumers about the benefits of US wine.
La Cave’s Ms. Madhulika Bhattacharya, the mastermind behind the campaign, has indicated the possibility of expanding it to other parts of India, including Bengaluru and Chennai.
Given the overwhelmingly positive response in Mumbai, there is no doubt that American wines have a bright future in India. With the help of influencers like La Cave, USDA, and FBAI, all of India will soon know that American wines are here to stay!