Introducing Indian Wines...
Posted on 5th September 2014
If we asked you to name some of the major wine producing countries of the world chances are you would reel off a list of countries including, to name but a few, Italy, France, Spain and Australia. Very few of you are likely to name India, and understandably so - in 2011 India did not feature on the list of top 40 wine producing nations of the world. Despite that, since the 1980's there has been resurgence in the Indian wine industry, with many wines now showcased around the world.
The large majority of the Indian subcontinent is not suitable for viticulture, however, the large diversity in climate and geology means that some areas offer suitable terroir for wine making to thrive. With the summer growing season prone to very high temperatures and monsoons, vineyards are planted along slopes and hillsides at higher altitudes where they can benefit from cooler air and protection from the wind. This altitude can range from 600ft in Karnataka up to 3,300ft in Kashmir.
Indian Wine Growing Regions
- Andhra Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
It is believed that viticulture was introduced to India around 4,000BC by Persian traders. Though initially used for table grapes and grape juice, during the Vedic period (approximately 2000-1000BC) the Aryan tribes were known for indulging in intoxicating drink; most likely wine.
The first mention of grape-based wines did not appear until the 4th century BC in the writings of Chanakya, chief minister of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. In it he condemned the user of alcohol, making reference to the frequent indulgence of a grape wine known as Madhu by the emperor and his court.
Through the centuries there have been differing opinions on the production and drinking of wine in India. Alcohol was prohibited under the rule of the Muslim Mughal Empire in accordance with Islamic dietary laws, whilst in the 16th century the Portugese colonists introduced the production of fortified wines into Goa; something that quickly spread to other regions. Viticulture and winemaking was also strongly encouraged under the British rule of the Victorian era, with vineyards planted extensively across the regions of Baramati, Kashmir and Surat. This culminated in Indian wines receiving a favourable reception at the 1883 Calcutta International Exhibition.
Following independence from the British Empire unfavourable religious and public opinion during the 1950's resulted in many of Indian states prohibiting alcohol. The 1980's saw the turning point when The Tonia Group began making still and sparkling wines. Other wineries soon followed, fuelling the growth and development of the wine industry in India.
So next time you are in your local wine stockist choosing your next bottle be sure to keep an eye out for a bottle of Indian wine and give it a try for yourself!