Did you know that … Indian wines were exhibited at the Great Calcutta Exhibition of 1884?

Wine is a known taste for indian palates; wine production in India comes from the Vedic period. In Vedic period wine was often referred as “Somarasa” (Soma-squeezing juice from plants, Rasa-juice); it was believed to be associated with God “Indra” (king of Gods). The presence of European travelers during XVI and XVII century approached wine to emperors. From 1612 wine became popular due to British influence and, as cost of shipping wine in India was very high, British started to cultivate vineyards in Surat and Kashmir. It was produced red wines (Kandhari) and white wines (Bhokri, Fakdi, Sahebi, etc).

Portuguese settlers improved wine and also introduced a new variety, Vindaloo, originally called “Vin d´Ail”. That wine was produced introducing meat in barrels, some garlic and spices. Indian wines were exhibited and favorably received by visitors to the Great Calcutta Exhibition in 1884.

After some years of pause and destruction of vineyards as per unknown reasons, wine revived in 1985. Known wineries were established at that time, taking European technology.

Today wine is seen as a sophisticated drink and in fact considered being healthier than liquor. This factor has made it popular even amongst women and the young starters. Wine consumption is concentrated in urban areas; Mumbai accounts 40% of sales, Delhi accounts around 15%, Goa 8% and Bangalore around 6%. There are about 38 wineries, with a total production of 6.2 yearly million litres. Maharashtra is the state of wine, there are 36 wineries and produces 5.4 million litres.

Eva Reñé Bañeres, February 15th 2011

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