The India wine industry is still in a fledgling state but is keen to be in the big leagues. The desire has been prompted by the move of the wineries in the country to affix labels on wine bottles from April 1. The labels declare the standards and specifications of the products in a globally compliant manner. It is believed that the move could increase the presence of Indian wines in international markets.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) standards are similar to those prescribed by the Paris-based Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), which consists of 46 wine-producer countries, including India. The labels indicate the origin of the wine, the range of sugar, a variety of grape used, residues/preservatives used, vintage etc. These also carry a statutory warning of alcoholic content. Pawan Kumar Agarwal, CEO at FSSAI, told a business daily that the old unused labels and printed cans were given six months (for phaseout). Wine manufactured prior to April 1, 2019, he said, could be sold in the market up to March 31, 2020.

It was only when the Sula winery in Maharashtra sold a million cases of wine that India’s wines caught the attention of wine connoisseurs. Today, while the domestic wine industry has an annual turnover of just Rs 600 crore now – global wine sales were to the tune of $327 billion in 2018 and Sula Wines accounted for three-fourths of it.

The new labelling standards for Indian wines has come at a time when the global industry is poised to enter a high-growth phase after several years of stagnant growth. While the annual growth (CAGR) of the global wine industry was just 1.9% in the 2013-2018 period, a recent study has predicted the growth to be around 5.8% between 2017 and 2023.

Yatin Patil, President, All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA), said, “The new norms would mean that there are proper definitions of red wine, white wine and wine producers would also be required to share details about the rootstock that goes into the making of the wine. This would bring in standardisation in the industry.”