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Methanol in wine

Greg Hodson1, Eric Wilkes2, Sara Azevedo1 and Tony Battaglene1

1 – FIVS, 18 rue d’Aguesseau, 75008 Paris, France

2 – Australian Wine Research Institute, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae SA 5064, Australia

Abstract

This paper examines the origins of methanol in grape wine and the quantities typically found in it, as well as in other foods such as unpasteurised fruit juices. The toxicology of methanol and the associated regulatory limits established by competent authorities in various parts of the world are also considered. It is concluded that such limits are not driven by public health considerations and thus authorities are requested to consider the need for methanol analyses to be performed and reported on certificates of analysis as a condition of market entry for wine. Where methanol limits are still deemed to be necessary to achieve policy objectives, authorities are encouraged to establish them in the light of the levels of methanol typically found in grape wines produced by the full array of internationally permitted winemaking practices, and to consider harmonising their limits with those that have already been established by other governments or recommended by appropriate intergovernmental organisations.

© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences 2017

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

  1. Introduction

The origin and significance of methanol in wine, and the associated establishment of regulatory limits for its presence there, are causes of much confusion and misunderstanding in international trade. This paper, produced by the FIVS Scientific and Technical Committee, reviews the topic in some detail, providing reference materials to assist with further study. It concludes that the levels of methanol commonly found in grape wines are broadly similar to those that may be found in many freshly squeezed and unpasteurised fruit juices if they are stored for a period of time after squeezing. It is further demonstrated, from a comparison of regulatory limits for methanol in wine with food safety risk assessments that have been conducted by reputable bodies, that the limits themselves do not serve any real food safety purpose. This is because many litres of wine per day or even per hour would need to be consumed (even if the product contained the highest content of methanol permissible in regulations) to even approach intake levels of any known toxicological concern [1].

2. Chemical properties and other information for methanol

Methanol is chemically characterized as follows [2]:

2.1. Chemical Formula, Synonyms, CAS Registry number

Chemical formula: CH3OH

Synonyms: Methyl alcohol, Carbinol, Wood alcohol

CAS Registry Number: 67-56-1.

2.2. Physico-chemical properties

Physical appearance: Methanol is a colourless liquid with characteristic odour.

Melting Point: –98 °C

Boiling Point: 65 °C

Solubility in water: Miscible.

3. Origin of Methanol in wine

3.1. Action of pectinase enzymes

3.1.1. Action of endogenous pectinase enzymes on pectin in grapes

Methanol is produced before and during alcoholic fermentation from the hydrolysis of pectins by pectinase enzymes (such as pectin methylesterase) which are naturally present in the fruit. More methanol is produced when must is fermented on grape skins; hence there is generally more in red wines than in rosé or white wines (see Sect. 4 below).

3.1.2. Use of exogenous pectinase enzymes in winemaking

Exogenous pectinase enzymes are permitted for use in winemaking (generally as clarifying agents) in at least the following countries: Australia, Canada, the 28 Member States of the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Georgia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States. Their use is also deemed to be an acceptable winemaking practice by the International Organisation for Vine and Wine (OIV) [3]. As with the activity of pectinases naturally present in grapes, the use of exogenous pectinases as a winemaking practice will have the effect of increasing the levels of methanol in the resulting wine.

3.2. Treatment of wine with Dimethyldicarbonate

Dimethyldicarbonate (DMDC) is an effective pre-bottling sterilant, accepted for use in winemaking in Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, the 28 Member States of the European Union, the Republic of Georgia, Hong Kong China, Myanmar, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United States, whose use is generally limited in international regulations and recommendations to a maximum treatment of 200 mg/L of wine [4]. For other alcoholic beverages and mixtures of alcoholic and other beverages with an alcoholic strength by volume of less than 15%, the limit on usage is often set at 250 mg/L. The use of DMDC can be important in stabilizing lower alcohol products from additional fermentation in the bottle, and also allows a reduction in the quantity of sulphur dioxide that is used where the oxygen in wine is kept below 1 mg/L. DMDC breaks down rapidly in wine, producing carbon dioxide and leaving methanol at very low levels not harmful to health and other innocuous products in the wine. Methanol at a level of about 100 mg/L is created in wine from a DMDC treatment at the typical maximum treatment level of 200 mg/L [5].

4. Typical levels of methanol in wine

It was noted above that the presence of low levels of methanol in wine is expected due to the action of pectinase enzymes that are naturally present in the grapes. A study of the literature indicates the following information concerning the typical levels of methanol that may be found in wine (these levels generally do not account for any additional amount that may result from a DMDC treatment):

• Red wines will tend to contain more methanol (between 120 and 250 mg/L of the total wine volume) than white wines (between 40 and 120 mg/L of the total wine volume), because of the longer exposure to grape skins during the fermentation [6].

• Wines made from grapes that have been exposed to Botrytis cinerea (e.g. late harvest wines, such as Sauternes or Tokay) also have higher methanol levels than standard grape wines (as much as 364 mg/L of the total wine volume) [7].

• Wines made from non Vitis vinifera grapes tend to contain more methanol than wine from pure Vitis vinifera [8].

4.1. Case study: Typical levels of methanol in Australian wine

A recent survey looked at 150 wines from across Australia to determine typical levels of methanol in commercial wine [9]. The sample set consisted of 90 red and 60 white wines from multiple varieties and vintages. All wines were analysed using a GC-FID in the Australian Wine Research Institute’s ISO 17025 accredited laboratory. No evidence of DMDC treatment (a source of methanol) was found for any of the wines tested.

Typical ranges for methanol found in Australian wines were; 60–280 mg/L in reds (mean 170 mg/L) and 40–120 mg/L in whites (mean 58 mg/L). All wines tested had some methanol content. The main driver for higher methanol levels appeared to be skin contact during processing. Variety or vintage had no significant impact.

4.1.1. Typical values

Results for red and white wines were significantly different. Red wines typically contained higher levels of methanol across a larger range of content, reflecting greater variation in skin contact times. All wines were found to be within Australian and OIV guidelines (Fig. 1).

Figure 1

4.1.2. Impact of variety

No significant differences of methanol content were found based on grape variety. The only difference found was between red and white wines, reflecting the differences in processing for the different wine styles (Fig. 2). 4.1.3. Impact of vintage

Figure 2

4.1.3. Impact of vintage

Figure 3

No significant impact of year of production on the methanol concentration was found (Fig. 3).

Indian liquor trends pre and post COVID

The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to impact India since its arrival in spring last year. The government initially reacted by imposing a national lockdown from 23rd March to 4th May last year. The on-trade was completely closed, as were most liquor shops in every state. Places of work shut down, so many young office workers left the urban centres. With the on-trade stifled, retail purchases and consumption of beverage alcohol at home became the norm in most mainstream categories. In India, however, women and younger consumers still feel uncomfortable drinking in front of more conservative parents and family members at home. Limitations on space and refrigeration favoured spirits over beer, RTDs and – especially for young urban women – wine, all of which are usually consumed cold.

The implications of the pandemic response for India’s status as a federal republic soon became clear. The importance of excise duty income from alcohol, tobacco and fuel was brought into sharp relief as revenue streams dried up and the diminishing income from national taxes, such as GST, were used to offset fiscal shortfalls at state level. Most states responded by increasing excise duties – often suddenly and steeply – as well as charging taxpayers one-off cess payments, commonly levied by central governments for a specific purpose. Unusually, this cess (tax on tax), commonly levied by central government for a specific and clearly defined purpose (and not shared with state governments), has been applied in a number of instances at state level as a Corona-cess. Some states have been more reluctant than others to review, reduce or cancel such supposedly temporary measures. For instance, Andhra Pradesh – where the government had tried to enforce prohibition before the pandemic – imposed a 75% excise duty incre for two days just as the national lockdown ended last May; and on the same day, Delhi imposed a 70% cess on the maximum retail price (MRP) of all liquor, which remained until 7th June.

The timing of the lockdown could not have been worse, especially for beer. The category relies on young urban drinkers and after-work occasions and its peak season for consumption was about to start. When lockdown ended, bars and restaurants re-opened in most states, but were limited to 50% occupancy, and workers were slower to return to offices. Many are still working from home or – during Q1 2021 – have returned to it.

Compared to some countries, where citizens often remained risk-averse and pessimistic after the first lockdown, Indian consumer confidence seemed to bounce back quickly. Many Indians assumed – wrongly – that their everyday hygiene challenges afforded them a high degree of natural immunity to the coronavirus.

The past year has confirmed that India is squarely a brown spirits market. Whisky absorbs two-thirds of consumption in this market; brandy – with a strong presence in the south – takes 20%; and rum takes around half of that. In a total market that has shrunk by around one-fifth, whisky declined only slightly less than brandy and rum, which fell around one-quarter. Beer and RTDs suffered precipitous falls, deprived of many of the venues and occasions that had driven consumption forward. All clear spirits witnessed steeper declines in consumption than dark spirits: in each category, sales of domestically produced brands bottled in India (BII) fell away faster. Even allowing for the experimentation evident in categories such as Irish whiskey, consumers sought out brands that they knew, had earned equity and had consistent quality. In short, they sought out certainties.

Two other fundamental shifts have also occurred. Firstly, the premiumisation trend – evident before the pandemic – saw some importers shift their focus to retail, increasing its offering of high-end brands, which were previously targetted at Duty-Free and at the on-trade. Disposable income spent on going out to eat and drink before the pandemic was instead often redirected to premium-and-above products for at-home consumption. Secondly, as a corollary to this and confirming the pressure on the mainstream, was down-trading out of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), either bottled in origin (BIO) or BII.

Budget-conscious consumers instead chose either country liquor or illicit alternatives, having long been deprived of licensed outlets in which to purchase their nips.

The on-trade closure has also impacted routes to market and the supply chain and it increasingly determines choice. When all outlets closed, some states permitted home delivery, which many thought heralded the long-expected rise of the e-commerce channel. In reality, this was an expedient option for retail outlets: e-commerce has not seen a consequent increase in regulation or investment since. On the contrary, drinks ordering apps, such as Hipbar, appear to have been actively discouraged.

The effects of a six-week shutdown of alcohol supply lasted long after it ended: restocking and logistics issues extended out-of-stock occurrences well into the summer months. Importers often found it difficult to source supplies as exporters were reluctant to ship to trading partners in an uncertain economy, not least because they wanted to avoid passing on rising logistics costs to consumers.

One of the responses, driven by leading country liquor suppliers, has been the emergence of intermediate or medium liquor produced locally: this refers to a price band of distilled liquor sold under licensed quota in certain states – presently Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh only – competitively priced between country liquor/IMIL (Indian-made Indian liquor) and IMFL. Commonly the price, set by the state, is at a 25% premium to the country liquor price, a similar proportion lower than IMFL pricing.

This system has the additional benefits of almost guaranteeing state excise income and reducing the occurrence of country liquor-related health issues through better-quality product. In theory, this model should be attractive to many more states. In practice, its implementation may be limited by the relative scarcity of country liquor distillers able to produce medium liquor of the requisite quality. Nevertheless, with investment and a little covert encouragement from the states, that provision will doubtless evolve over time.

In a decentralised India, the domestic beverage alcohol industry relies on a relatively small number of states for its success. The top three states – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal – account for one-third of India’s population. The top six states account for half of the population. West Bengal is the only corporate state: the beverage alcohol industry is regulated directly through a state body. By contrast, the five largest states in the south are each home to beverage alcohol corporations.

This complexity and large size of India means that there are very few companies that are truly national. Even those that are considered national – thanks to a contract bottling network – still retain large regional brands in their portfolios. There is a small number of multinationals twinning domestic production with imports that are focussed on urban distribution shared among importers and wholesalers. India has a larger number of local distillers aspiring to convert their regional origins into a multi-region or national presence; and there are many smaller distillers, the majority of whom supply locally. Most distillers, therefore, will only be trading in one or two jurisdictions and navigating one or two bureaucracies. For the larger players, these challenges are manifold.

The second half of 2020 saw the Indian beverage alcohol market emerging quickly and largely unscathed from Covid-19 and lockdown. Leading spirits companies in particular were reporting quarterly revenues and volumes that had recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This was in spite of the on-trade remaining stifled, e-commerce failing to expand and the regulation and excise duty rises imposed by most states. However, by the second quarter of this year – the beginning of the new financial year for most corporations – this initial optimism about rapid recovery has somewhat evaporated.

The picture, though, is mixed. India’s federal state model shows up the inconsistencies between states: decisions can often be arbitrary, poorly thought through and political rather than practical, but a successful model in one state can be swiftly adopted in another. On the one hand, the Delhi state government’s legislation lowering the legal drinking age from 25 to 21 is positive for the industry. On the other, Andhra Pradesh will join Bihar, Gujarat and some other smaller states and territories to prohibit alcohol for around 250m people, which is nearly one-fifth of the population.

It cannot be overstated how the pandemic and its effects demonstrated the importance of beverage alcohol revenues to individual states’ budgets. Some state governments recognise this and are approaching their beverage alcohol policy with pragmatism by listening to the industry more attentively.

The key issues revolve around the temporary and permanent changes brought about by the pandemic. Office work may have changed permanently, calling into question whether or not urban on-trade lighthouse accounts will recover. It is uncertain when occupancy rates in on-trade venues rise above the current 50% constraint. The medium liquor system may see expansion into further states. It is also questionable whether premiumisation will persist or the second Covid-19 wave will dent consumer confidence fundamentally.

The wider economy, of course, is a determining factor. Declining disposable income has particular relevance for beverage alcohol spend. The industry is circumscribed by its investment in advertising and promotion. The pandemic has sharpened the senses of many executives and players, but left others close to collapse, unable to survive further uncertain events. States have pursued short-term solutions throughout the pandemic and it is unknown if this approach will persist. However, it is likely that the distilling capacity of the domestic industry will not grow. This has implications for all, given the contract-bottling model that has enabled the largest players to become truly national.

General Forecast Assumptions

On-Trade – In some states, the on-trade had re-opened up to 85% of its former capacity by Q1 2021. However, the occupancy restriction to 50% remains, so the real throughput is also likely to be at 50%. This will continue to affect beer and RTDs. Furthermore, on-trade sub-channels are re-opening at different rates.

Restaurants opened faster than bars; and bars faster than night venues. Whilst this appears to affect wine and premium spirits in higher-end outlets, the impact will be mitigated by the flexibility of suppliers, many of whom have switched attention to retail and targetting wealthier consumers.

Medium Liquor – Consumers in some states are now being offered a wider choice. Those who had traded down to country liquor may choose medium liquor instead of IMFL. Currently this is available in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, but more states may institute this. A significant number of consumers may prefer the taste and the brands on offer in the category to IMFL.

E-commerce – When three of the larger eastern states – West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkand – permitted home delivery of alcohol, it was thought e-commerce would, at last, be stimulated by the lockdown conditions. They were soon joined by Orissa and Maharashtra. However, steep delivery charges, regulatory uncertainty, a reluctance to invest and a poor delivery-logistics framework continue to hamper growth, as well as the nature of Indian e-commerce defined on the invitation issued by the West Bengal authorities as “handling the electronic ordering, purchase, sale and home delivery of alcoholic liquors from licensed food [and liquor] outlets”. Retail competitors required to pay for annual licences have lobbied against the channel as well. Some significant platforms – Amazon, Flipkart (Walmart), Big Basket, Swiggy, Zomato and the mobile app Hipbar, reportedly backed by Diageo and, in Mumbai, Living Liquidz – responded to state-level invitations to get involved after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of home delivery from licensed retail. However, it has become clear that any bureaucratic encouragement of home delivery has primarily been one of a range of responses to the crowds that gathered outside liquor shops last year and, while recurring lockdowns may help to accelerate e-commerce, the channel will not significantly impact the industry for the foreseeable future. Informal delivery, where customers call up the liquor store and get an order dropped off by moped, already existed and will continue.

Regulation – Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, had previously imposed a cess of 20 per bottle of beer. West Bengal, the fourth most populous state, increased consumer tax by 30%. Rajasthan, the sixth most populous, enacted both, adding20 per bottle and imposing a 10% increase in consumer tax. Their approach is unlikely to change. Additionally, the election in Bihar state did not return a government willing to reverse prohibition. Andhra Pradesh’s government was unable to enact prohibition but has discouraged some national players by making trading there problematic. However, it is assumed there is no foreseeable regulatory movement throughout the forecast period.

Consumer Base Expansion – India’s population is approaching 1.4bn, with less than half being of legal drinking age. The actual number of alcohol consumers is believed to be closer to 160m, only 7.5% of whom are women. Per capita rates for beer and RTDs remain low at around 1.2 litres for men and 150ml for women, re-calculated at 10 litres and 1.25 litres on estimated drinking population numbers. Wine has similar rates to RTDs, spirits are 1.8 litres per capita and nearly 15 litres on a re-calculated basis. There are more younger consumers joining the potential drinking population every year. Uptake by women reportedly increased during the pandemic.

At-Home Consumption – This trend is likely to persist beyond the pandemic. Wealthier consumers of premium spirits and imports spend for indulging at home and for gifts. The wedding industry will revive: most wine suppliers are focussing on higher-end offerings, educating consumers about its accessibility and suitability during meals, as well as drinking before and after. Beer and RTDs will find difficulty switching as their core message is based on going out and socialising rather than at-home consumption, and most consumers have insufficient refrigeration space at home.

Key Market Factors

Cultural – The legal drinking age varies from state to state. In most states it is 21, but 25 in the populous states of Haryana and the Punjab. In Maharashtra it is 21 for beer and wine, and 25 for liquor. Bigger states with a drinking age of 18 include Rajasthan in the north and Kerala in the south. Delhi is about to lower its LDA from 25 to 21.

Three states with larger populations prohibit alcohol. Gujarat has been dry for the longest, with Bihar and now Andhra Pradesh having imposed prohibition more recently. Outcomes are mixed, with Bihar and Andhra Pradesh reportedly having some of the highest per capita consumption rates for beverage alcohol nationally once illicit alcohol is factored in.

Demographic – A key driver of consumption has been urbanisation, particularly among younger LDA drinkers. The lockdown appears to have reversed this, with young office workers returning to their parents’ houses in smaller cities, towns and the countryside.

The overall population is nearly 1.4bn and grows by 15–20m or more every year. The drinking population is considerably smaller: at least half can only afford very cheap country liquor, which is largely unbranded alcohol with an estimated market of 250–285m cases.

The rapidly growing middle classes, who can afford premium-and-above, may number more than 150m. However, 98% of middle-class women and more than 20% of men are said not to drink for philosophical, religious or cultural reasons.

Some 49% of the population is aged under 19, and few drink, although younger consumers are generally more willing to consume alcohol than many of their parents. This leaves a market of between 25m and 30m people with the inclination and resources to drink IMFL.

Economic – There is little state support in India and wellbeing is the individual’s responsibility. With livelihoods uncertain but a young population inclined to optimism, the second Covid-19 wave may hit confidence hard and a volatile economy will see more cautious expenditure. Excise rates vary substantially from state to state even before the pandemic, which exacerbated the difference when states imposed cess payments to make up fiscal shortfalls.

A number of observers mention a shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure the revenues they can expect from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Trade – Difficulties with the supply of stock have been widespread. It is reported that lack of supply inhibited sales, especially of premium products. The pandemic hindered logistics and rendered delivery more expensive. Brand-owner allocations have also reduced the agility to respond to demand.

A further element is that the phenomenon of medium liquor in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh offers more settled revenue for states and gives consumers an alternative to IMFL. One leading country liquor supplier reports now selling twice as much medium liquor as it does country liquor per month. India is unusual in that spirits demand is significantly more developed than demand for beer. While there is some interplay between the two with bang-for-buck consumers keen to maximise alcohol content per rupee delivery, there were some signs that demand for beer was beginning to develop separately.

However, strong beers of 8.5% ABV still represent more than 82% of demand. The first lockdown also affected trade, and was both severe and ill-timed – six weeks without sales, just before peak season for beer and RTDs. The on-trade revived in the second half of 2020 with near full re-opening in some states, but night and weekend curfews, combined with 50% capacity limits, continue to constrain this channel. The uncertainty of lockdown and the unavailability of liquor drove some consumers back down to country liquor, although not in the south where it is banned in five large states.

There was more limited up-trading by wealthier consumers. However, mainstream products, brands and players have been affected with some of the less financially secure domestic players closing for some months. In some of the larger states, competition in the beverage alcohol category is relatively open. In more there are state corporations set up as wholesalers and frequently as retailers too. In all states, beverage alcohol participants must navigate a web of licences, quotas and taxes, and sometimes incentives.

In certain key states, the regulatory authorities that control pricing have rationalised their price lists. In Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana the correction has been downwards for higher-priced imports.

It is reported that there is shift to modern retail. This is consistent with state governments looking to secure revenues from beverage alcohol and also with consumer expectations around improving retail venues.

Political – Breweries have been investigated by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which has now resulted in fines for collusion and operating a cartel. The reputational impact is more serious than the financial cost.

Kerala Government allows pubs, wine parlours in IT parks, tweaks policy

The Kerala Government has approved setting up pubs and wine parlours in IT parks across the state. The State Cabinet which met recently announced a new liquor policy for the financial year 2022-23 which aims to increase the number of retail outlets in the state to bolster its exchequer. In the last five years, God’s Own Country received `46,546.13 crores through the taxation on liquor.

The government revealed to a RTI that it had collected Rs. 766 crores monthly as tax on liquor which meant that tipplers paid as much as Rs. 25.53 crore as tax on liquor. The highest revenue from the tax on liquor was collected during the period of 2018-19 and 2019-20. A total of Rs. 9,615.54 crore was collected in 2018-19 and Rs. 10,332.39 crore in 2019-20. There was dip in sales of liquor due to the pandemic in 2020-21. The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) posted a loss of Rs. 1,608.17 crore in revenue during 2020-21.

Hence, the government which was toying with the idea of opening up retail vends at different places has tweaked the policy. Now, BEVCO and Consumerfed outlets will be started in those areas which are safely away from populated and residential areas. The demand for allowing pubs in the IT sector has been a subject of debate for some time.

The IT sector in the state was demanding to change its policy on the matter. It is learned that the pubs will have facilities of five-star luxury hotel. The Pinarayi Vijayan government tweaked the liquor policy enabling the opening of more retail outlets and the biggest gainer appears to be the IT parks in Kerala, where special earmarked areas will be provided where IT buffs can have a drink.

Incidentally, the liquor policy of the Kerala government is an annual ritual, when the rules are made for the new fiscal and become applicable from April 1 every year.

The biggest gainer appeared to be the three IT parks in the state, where over one lakh professionals are employed at Technopark, Kochi Infopark and the Kozhikode IT park.

The State Excise Minister MV Govindan pointed out that there has been a long-standing demand from IT professionals for a lack of facilities for recreation. “It has been decided to allow sanction for special licenses to these parks where specially marked areas will be there in the park and facilities will be available for consumption of liquor under strict norms,” said a statement from the Minister.

The government also is giving permission to produce liquor with low alcoholic content or wine from the cashew apple, pineapple, jackfruit and nutmeg. Similar to what Delhi did, Kerala intends to allow buying of foreign liquor from the outlets without queues. The decision to increase the production of liquor in the existing units and launch new units has been taken to address the issues in the production of Indian-made foreign liquor and beer.

The government said that it was taking measures to escalate the production of Jawan rum of Travancore Sugars and start manufacturing at the Malabar distillery.

Highlights of the policy:

• No hike in brand registration fees for liquor selling in cans and glass bottles
• The government proposes to ban sale of liquor in plastic bottles from 2023-24
• The closed outlets will be reopened as premium shops to reduce the rush in existing outlets
• Grant of bar licenses will be only to three-star hotels and above
• Kerala Toddy Industry Development Board will be revived and soon licenses will be issued to operate toddy shops from 2022-23
• Track and trace systems will be introduced for production of liquor and inter-district/intra-range transport
• Beverages corporation will launch liquor-related industries in the state
• All services provided by the Excise department will be made available online from April 1
• Computerisation of foreign liquor outlets
• More vehicles and 100 pistols will be delivered to the excise circle offices of eight taluks
• Mobile app titled ‘Peoples Eye’ to lodge complaints about the trade, stocking and consumption of illicit liquor
• Increase the posts of women civil excise officers
• Appoint 100 youth from scheduled tribes as civil excise officers

Australian wines focus on India paying rich dividends

Australia’s industry is different. It is much more mature, and our climate allows for a more diverse variety of wines to be produced. So it isn’t a “like for like” comparison. In fact, we see no real competition between the domestically produced and imported wines. Both are targetted to different parts of the society. Domestic wines are often perceived as “value for money”.

Imported wines often carry a perception of quality among Indian customers who are willing to pay a premium. According to some statistic, imported wines account for about 35% of the country’s total wine consumption in terms of value but only about 12% in terms of volume.

Australia is looking at the upper end of the spectrum in wines, we see an opportunity for Australian labels to offer an experience to consumers.

The diversity and quality we can offer, gives us the ability to provide consumers with something that few new world countries can.

What experiences of Asian markets would you like to bring to the marketplace?

The Indian wine market is in a nascent stage, especially for imported wine. We are delighted to see wine culture slowly evolving and consumer adoption growing.

As the industry continues to grow, we are hoping to see more advanced matching of wines and foods. Cobranding of wine experiences with other activities, like premium tourism. Curated experiences that take the consumer on a journey. Tasting rooms, which we see coming up in Maharashtra soon, are something we are working on.

Our main aim is to see wine transformed from consumption to experience in the mind of the consumers.

Exports of Australian wines in glass bottles have grown 2% in value and unpackaged wines by 13%, what are your comments? Do you see an opportunity for bulk wine exports to India?

There is an opportunity for bulk wine. But current duty structures don’t really make it viable. There is no significant cost saving to import bulk as custom duty remains same for bottled and bulk wine. It’s not something we are looking into right now.

We do see opportunities for private labels in India and have had success with Australian brands developing private labels for Indian organisations.

What kind of pricing strategy should Australian wines adopt as the global trends are for low-end wines and high-end wines?

Brands should consider a multi-pronged strategy. Offering an entry level wine to generate awareness of their label in the market. Support this with a more premium offering, that elevates the perception of quality.

What are your comments on the growth of wines in value (less than $2.50 per litre) by 8% and that of high-end wines ($50 and more) increase by 34% in value?

This is a very encouraging trend. It shows a maturing of consumers’ pallet and an appetite for a premium experience.

As has been the case all around the world, as the industry matures, consumers’ pallets become more sophisticated and the premium segment emerges. We also see this trend in the fact that importers are not only seeking entry level wines, but also mid and premium level wines

Australia has unique position in Indian market. Australia has significant market share not only in wines value less than $2.50 per litre, but also high-end wines, too.

Australian wines have an approximately 23% market share, and a little over US$ 6 million in value. What target would you like to set for yourself in terms of market share and value?

We are very proud of our position in the market. It’s something we want to hold on to and grow. We haven’t set targets in terms of overall dollar value. We want to focus on creating a brand for Australian wine, as we feel this will give the best outcome.

Importantly, younger generations, particularly the age group of 20-35 years, is the emerging consumer segment for wine. This is due primarily to an exposure to Western culture.

Austrade India have a significant presence on the ground. Austrade has offices in six Indian cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata & Hyderabad). We are working closely with Indian importers and providing personalised one-on-one service to understand importers’ requirements to expand their portfolios and connect with Australian wineries. Austrade is playing an important role to maintain and grow Australian market share in imported wines in India.

With a very low per capita consumption of wine (a tablespoon) and total consumption of 30 million litres how would you rate prospects of Australian wine in India?

With the market being in a developing state, there is huge potential for Australia.

Historically, India has been a market for spirits and beer and wine consumption has been limited by availability of domestic wine as well as the high cost of imported wines.

In a country with a billion-plus population, it is estimated that wine in India has penetrated only a small segment of the population so far, resulting in low capita consumption of wine. Wines are increasingly becoming popular among younger generations and are now being served at functions, events, Indian marriages, and gifting.

Australia’s proximity to India, in comparison to other wine producers, gives Australian exporters a slight advantage. Not only are freight cost moderately cheaper, but diplomatic relations are strong due to our shared democratic values and large Indian diaspora in Australia.

The position of Australian wine and its wineries is critical. We want consumers to think of Australia in terms of a premium brand for wine – A leader in the new world.

With India being such a young country (by demographics and at heart) we’ve taken a long-term vision for the market.

With India importing about 500,000 cases of wines per annum what is the scope for Australian wines in India?

With the market being in such a developmental state, there is huge potential for Australia. The amount of wine imported will grow over the coming years and if Australia can establish its brand in the market it will be a big part of that growth.

Many well-known Australian wines are not present in India – Jacob’s Creek, Hardy’s, Yellowtail are three accessible brands. For consumers looking to explore Aussie labels and varieties further there is Yalumba, Torbreck, Two Hands, Penfolds, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass and Debortoli available across a range of state, just to name a few.

Imported rosé is witnessing increased interest due to its versatility and food pairing. Rosé is often discussed as an excellent wine to pair with vegetarian food. It suits the Indian palate as it is light and fresh like white wine, but with the body and fruitiness of a red wine. Blush-coloured medium sweet Moscato wines that are low in alcohol content are emerging as a trend amongst health-conscious consumers. This is something Australia can bring more of to the market.

“Wine-in-can” is a new segment that is targetted primarily at millennials for on-the-go consumption. We’ve already seen success for Australia in this area with Barokes.

All these trends support the notion that Australia will continue to be a leading choice for consumers in India.

With 19 million young people entering the drinking market each year and with young people a prime target audience for wines, how do you plan to address this target and the general wine drinking audience?

The perception of wine needs to be looked at. For a long time, wine has held a distinct position in the Indian consumers’ mind. It has been seen as a sophisticated and stylish drink as compared to other alcoholic beverages, like whiskey, scotch and rum that are considered men’s drink or gin, which might be considered a preference for females.

But the thing with wine is there are so many different varietals and tastes, that there is a type of wine for everyone.

If we can bring exciting options, like rosé or different sparkling varieties I think it can really excite new consumers and appeal to broader tastes.

Right now, wine consumption in India is largely limited to urban areas and metropolitans. Austrade advises its Aussie labels to focus not only on metros, but also to look at tier-2 and tourist locations.

Younger wine drinkers in India are an experimental group who are searching for new experiences; an appetite we hope to satisfy with Australian wine.

Best places for Drinking Around the World

While drinking at night is very popular, day drinking during Covid times has also gained traction. There are a huge variety of day drinking destinations and beverage options around the world, from public parks in South Korea to cozy bars in Belgium to the beaches of Brazil. We look at some of the best drinking destinations in alphabetical order, first by country and then by city.

Mendoza, Argentina is ideal for day drinking

The entire Mendoza wine region is designed for day drinking, with its affordable wine tastings, winery lunches with wine pairings and beautiful weather year-round. But the creme de la creme of Mendoza winery lunches is the five-course lunch with (bottomless!) wine pairings at Bodega la Azul in the Uco Valley.

Yerevan, Armenia

The best things to do in Yerevan, Armenia, is drink wine. Saryan Street is the city’s “wine street”, famous for its Karas Wine. A great atmosphere for getting work done while enjoying a glass of wine or two.

Maffra, Australia

On a sunny day, both locals and visitors love to do some weekend day drinking by meeting up with friends, sitting around and trying some of Blue Gables’ amazing wines. There is nothing better than sipping from a chilled bottle of Moscato wine, sharing a wood-fired pizza and relaxing in this chilled-out environment.

Melbourne, Australia

There is no better way to spend a sunny day drinking in Melbourne, Australia than sipping prosecco outside at one of Melbourne’s many famous bars.Light, bubbly and refreshing, prosecco is the perfect drink to linger over as you relax in the sun.In recent years, Australian producers have mastered the art of Italian prosecco and you can find their drops all over town. The Australian proseccos come from the King Valley region, produced by Italian migrant families Dal Zotto and Pizzini. A seat at Arbory Bar on the Yarra River, next to Flinders Street station, offers a change of scenery and a unique venue in the middle of the river. Ponyfish Island is where your prosecco adventures in Melbourne continue in the shade of the Southbank bridge. It’s the kind of quintessential hidden bar that Melbourne is known for.

Sydney, Australia

The Bondi area in Sydney, Australia is the perfect place to day drink among other cheerful day drinkers. This is mainly due to the Bondi beach and Bondi Junction areas being popular with backpackers who don’t need much of an occasion to get their party on. It’s a popular pastime for the working holiday-makers in Sydney, who often start day drinking after an early finish on a Friday. This can continue throughout the weekend and culminates in the Sunday session which starts sometime on Sunday morning and ends when the pub closes.Most pubs in the area open early and have a very casual feel so you needn’t get dolled up for day drinking session.The ideal day drink in Bondi is beer and wine is also perfectly acceptable for those of us who can go the day-drinking distance on the vino.

Brussels, Belgium

A mere 20 minutes from the bustle of Brussels’ Grand Place, you’ll find the commune of Saint Gilles. Described by its mayor as the place where the world comes to meet, it’s an opportunity to see the real Brussels, Belgium. Here, alongside fabulous Art Nouveau buildings by the architect Victor Horta, you’ll find life lived among friends and family. You’ll find that life plays out both around you and with you in the bars of Saint Gilles.If you’re a fan of Belgian beer, then there are plenty of choices to sit back and enjoy day drinking in Brussels with a favourite brew. One popular venue is Union and Egalite which keeps more than 90 beers in a long bar studded with chandeliers. Make a day drinking date with a glass of the splendid Orval, and feel the sheer pleasure of being in Brussels.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Without a doubt, the favourite location for a spot of day drinking is Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro.Either way, Copacabana Beach is awesome at all times of the year. And the drink of choice is Caipirinha. This is the most famous cocktail anywhere in Brazil. It is made from a spirit called cachaça, which comes from sugar cane. The cocktail is very simple to make: simply crush ice, lime juice and brown sugar, and then mix in some of the cachaça.Capirinhas are incredibly refreshing and very, very cheap to get anywhere in Brazil, making them perfect for day drinking in the hot sun.

Calgary, Canada

Although it’s not your typical cocktail, any good Canadian will tell you there is nothing like a Caesar to kickstart your day drinking session. Caesar is its birthplace, Calgary, Alberta.Think of a Caesar as the spicy, wilder cousin of a Bloody Mary – vodka, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and Clamato juice (yes, that’s clam and tomato juice!), served with a celery salted rim and typically topped with delicious garnishes such as pickled beans, asparagus or olives. But don’t let the clam juice throw you off! This cocktail is super popular across Canada.

Ontario, Canada

For a day of activity visit Prince Edward County, Ontario, for a craft brewery tour by bicycle. The County lies a few hours outside of Toronto, and is an increasingly popular craft beer hub for locals and tourists alike.Prince Edward County (PEC) is farmland-turned-wine and beer region with a vibrant art scene and food that compliments it. As the day wears on, try Grandpa’s Coffee Stout at Parson’s as you relax in oversized Muskoka chairs. If you like sour beers, 555 Brewery is for you with its Jail Cell Sour Series. Their pizzas are delicious.Finally, end your day of beer and biking at Sandbanks Provincial Park in PEC. Here you’ll find Ontario’s white sand beaches lining some of the clearest freshwater in the world. It’s the perfect place to have a campfire and toast some marshmallows, and maybe enjoy a couple more evening brews as you relax beneath the stars.

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba is known for its nightlife, but the truth is Cubans also love to drink rum during the day. Most tourists spend their time in Old Havana, which is a gorgeous and home to several bars claiming that Hemingway once drank there, but the more modern side of Havana, is where the locals go drinking.A good spot for day drinking in Havana is Playa del Estes, just outside of the city center. This beach is where locals visit on weekends. For a cocktail in Havana try 403 O’Reilly in Old Havana, a popular gin bar that also has other mixed drinks.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Czech Republic is known for its beers. Český Krumlov is also filled with wonderful locations for an afternoon glass of local wine. The veranda at Papa’s Restaurant is ideal for a little picnic beside the Vltava River in the shadow of Krumlov Castle and indulge in some day drinking as you watch the kayakers pass by.

Épernay, France

Épernay is a great destination for champagne lovers. In fact, Épernay is the capital of the Champagne area! It is in Épernay where the most famous champagne brands like Moët Chandon and Mercier have their headquarters and vineyards, but there are also other independent champagne makers with interesting proposals.The champagne is produced in a very limited area, with very specific kind of grapes and a very specific process. Any drink produced out of this area or without following these rules cannot be called champagne; that’s why the champagne is so exclusive!Épernay is well connected by train, which makes of Épernay an excellent day drinking day trip from Paris or Reims.

Berlin, Germany

Beer is German’s drink of choice. Berlin, Germany is to join the locals for a frosty glass of cold beer, preferably at a sidewalk picnic table or another busy location that lends itself to people watching and meeting new travel friends.

Munich, Germany

Munich’s annual Oktoberfest festival is one of the best places in the world for some serious day drinking and a great party atmosphere.

Dublin, Ireland

O’Donoghue’s Bar is a historically significant drinking place located 15 Merrion Row in Dublin, Ireland. It is a popular pub that has attracted tourists from all over the world for over 50 years. O’Donoghue’s is known for its amazing, live, traditional Irish music, and it’s the place that introduced the popular band The Dubliners in 1960s. The bar is also frequented by other world renowned Irish traditional music bands and artists, whose pictures are displayed inside the pub.Considered to be one of the most authentic Irish pubs in the country, this bar does not only offer good entertainment, but also good drinks. A popular day drinking pub as well, O’Donoghue’s Bar is open from 10 am to midnight daily. There’s no better place to experience Ireland in an authentic way other than to gobble down a pint or two of Guinness while listening to traditional Irish songs.

Verona, Italy

Dining al fresco in the town square, dressed to the nines, wearing designer shades and sipping a great cocktail might seem like the ways of the rich and famous, but any Italian tourist can enjoy this day drinking tradition!Walk along the rim of Piazza Bra in the heart of Verona, Italy to see cafes filled with locals and visitor alike. Mid-day they might be enjoying antipasti, formaggio, or a late lunch, but in their glasses, many will sport the blood orange aperitif very popular in this region, an Aperol.Nicknamed “Ape” by the locals, this liquor can be served on the rocks, or more commonly in an Aperol Spritz – a combo of Aperol, Prosecco, soda and an orange slice. However you serve it, this drink is meant to be enjoyed during happy hour, to open your palate for the evening meal to come!

Negril, Jamaica

When you are in Jamaica you will always hear people say “give me a Red Stripe” when they are at the beach bar. They are referring to Red Stripe beer, the most popular beer brand in Jamaica.Negril Beach is a few miles of white sand beach dotted by hotels and the quintessential beach bars. You can basically work your way down the beach, stopping at the various beach bars to enjoy a Red Stripe beer or a rum. The beach bars are also a great place to people watch, enjoy the vibes and make new friends. At the end of your day drinking, you’ll get to watch the famous Negril sunset.

Maldives

Day drinking cannot get any better than on an exotic island resort in the Maldives. The Paradise Island Resort, otherwise known as Lankanfilnolhu in the north atoll in the Maldives, is a pristine white sand luxury resort island best for strolling around… with vodka, of course!The Maldives is a tropical country and it gets pretty humid during the daytime, so the best way to beat the heat is by sipping a coconut vodka cocktail. The extremely refreshing coconut vodka is served at the Hulhangu bar, a sea-facing bar at the Paradise Island Resort. To give it a more exotic touch, the drink is served in a traditional Maldivian coconut. The refreshing flavour of the coconut, mixed with vodka and topped with lemon and mint leaves, is the ideal beverage to drink on a sunny afternoon at the beach.Hydrating and refreshing, sipping a coconut vodka cocktail at the Hulhangu bar’s seafront porch is something that everyone should have the good fortune to experience.

Mexico City, Mexico

Xochimilco in Mexico City is a series of canals that wind around chinampas, or artificially created islands with small farms, sometimes referred to as ‘floating gardens’. Bright, gondola-like boats crowd the canals, manoeuvred by a driver with a long pole. A boat can fit up to 20 people, and you can rent one by the hour. Smaller boats weave around the bigger ones, selling all kinds of snacks and beverages.Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail. A litre-sized soda cup is filled with lime juice and Dos Equis beer, then the rim is smeared with spicy Mexican tamarindo candy and chili powder.Mexican Tequilas too are world famous. Mezcal is a Mexican spirit made from agave. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, but while tequila is only made from one type of agave plant (blue agave), mezcal can be made from 28 types of agave, including blue agave.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of the best places to enjoy a day of relaxing day drinking is in Amsterdam. It’s actually acceptable in the Netherlands to sit on a lovely cafe balcony and sip on a beer in the afternoon while you people watch and chat with friends. Luckily, you don’t need to only drink Heineken. There are lots of great cafes and beers to choose from. A favourite spot in Amsterdam is Brouwerij ’t IJ. This craft brewery in Amsterdam (next to a windmill!) is open all afternoon and closes early in the evening, so you actually need to get started early if you intend to sample their fantastic beers. Otherwise, you can head up to Amsterdam Noord to sample beers from the Oedipus, another great craft brewery.

Marlborough, New Zealand

The New Zealand wine region of Marlborough is superb area in which to day drink your way through a series of amazing wineries. You can easily rent a bicycle and cycle through ten wineries in a small area… or you can hire a driver and make it a heck of a lot easier. Whichever way you decide to go, Marlborough is a great wine region where Sauvignon Blanc dominates, but smaller grapes will win your taste buds.Here in Marlborough you’ll find small boutique wineries like Gibson Bridge Winery and the up-and-coming Wairau Cove, alongside internationally known Cloudy Bay, and if you want a beer at the end of the day, there’s always the craft brewery, MOA!

El Nido, Philippines

When considering the best places in the world for day drinking you’d be amiss to exclude El Nido in the Philippines from your list. El Nido is an eco-tourism hotspot with beaches are to die for and (very importantly!) the booze is cheap!When you’re sitting on the beach, being served chilled, fresh coconuts filled with generous amounts of Filipino Don Papa rum is the best experience.

Krakow, Poland

Hot mulled wine is quite popular in many places, but have you heard of hot beer? “Hot” and “beer” are two words that one wouldn’t normally associate together, but hot beer is actually is an interesting beverage and if you are visiting Poland, you must try it.Hot beer is served in most bars all over Poland. However, the bars in Krakow are especially popular.Wrega Pub is located in the Kazimierz area of Krakow, making it an ideal place to enjoy some day drinking after a spot of sightseeing.

Lisbon, Portugal

Ginjinha is a liqueur synonymous with Lisbon, Portugal. Made from Ginja or Morello cherries, sugar and fortified wine, it is the go-to drink for locals and visitors alike, and any visit to Lisbon would be complete without sampling at least one Ginjinha in Lisbon.The famous cherry liqueur was drunk by the late Anthony Bourdain when he filmed his television show, No Reservations, in Lisbon. Apparently, he enjoyed a number of glasses of Ginjinha with the locals.Porto’s most famous tipple is undoubtedly port wine. This sweet, fortified wine originates a few hundred kilometres upstream in the Portugal’s Douro Valley, but thankfully you don’t need to go far to start enjoying it. The cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, have been storing oak barrels of port wine for centuries.

South Africa

Wine tasting is a great excuse for day drinking, and it allows you to sample delicious wines in beautiful settings.Visiting South Africa’s Cape Winelands is the perfect excuse to start day drinking delicious wines early in the morning.

Soju in South Korea

South Korea is by far one of the best day drinking destinations in the world. South Korea is actually the country that consumes the most alcohol in the entire world, because of their great love for soju, a traditional Korean spirit. You will find day drinking to be a common activity among the locals. Most convenience stores have tables and chairs set up outside for people to enjoy their snacks, beer and soju any time of the day or night.

Girona, Spain

There is one form of day drinking that is perfectly acceptable throughout the Catalan province of Spain – taking a vermouth.Vermouth is a big deal in Catalonia, with Vermouth bars opening around 11:00 am, and closing around 3:00 or 4:00 pm. Vermouth is a fortified wine, served over ice, with a lemon slice and often an olive stuffed with anchovies on the rim. It is best enjoyed with a few little tapas, including a tortilla espanola, olives or anchovies.The best place for vermouth in Catalonia is in Girona, in the Costa Brava.

Malmo, Sweden

Winters in Sweden are a challenge. Enter Akvavit, or Aquavit, to the rescue. Aquavit is an alcohol that has been used to warm the Scandinavian body, mind, and spirit since the 15th century.Akvavit is distilled from grain and potatoes, and is flavoured with herbs and spices. It has a distinct flavour that admittedly has to grow on you. But once it does, yippee, as it provides a nice warm feeling to ward off the early darkness and short winter days.Not for the faint of heart, Aquavit is 40% alcohol by volume, or 80 proof by US standards. It will kick your butt and take you prisoner if you have too much.Still, Aquavit is such an important part of Scandinavian culture that it is used to toast weddings, graduations and Christmas dinners. Typically served as shot, it is consumed after singing a song, called a snapsvisa or a “schnapps song”.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand is good for many things – seeing all the temples, eating your body weight in pad Thai and spending the day in the sun with a Chang beer. And if you’re going to do this, there’s only one place to do it right: Khao San Road.

New Orleans, USA

While you can find daiquiris and Irish coffees anywhere, only the Tropical Isle Bar in the French Quarter sells Hand Grenades. The recipe for the Hand Grenade originated here in the late 1980s and is patented by its owners. The drink is frozen and sugary sweet, with a melon flavour, and it is served in a tall green container shaped like a hand grenade. This is all perfect to mask what it actually contains – vodka, rum, gin, grain alcohol, and melon liqueur!The Tropical Isle Bar even has its own mascot for the Hand Grenade and over a million drinks are sold every year!

San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

When it comes to day drinking piña coladas, there is no better place to enjoy the pineapple, coconut and rum concoction than Barrachina in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Barrachina, a restaurant nestled in the heart of Old San Juan, claims to have been the birthplace of the piña colada in 1963. Be advised though, there is disagreement that the piña colada originated a few years prior at the Caribe Hilton.

Santa Ynez, California, USA

The Santa Ynez Valley in southern California, USA, is a fantastic place for drinking! The Santa Ynez Valley is a wonderful part of the world where the sun shines warmly for much of the year and winters are mild. The rolling hills are covered in vineyards and horse ranches. The quiet roads curl around between fields and buildings.This region is also renowned for its chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, and is home to around 120 wineries. Many of these California wineries open their doors to people who want to come and indulge in some wine tasting.

Sonoma County, USA

Wine is life in Northern California. The north part of the state is known for its vast range of wineries, wine makers and wine culture.Sonoma County is one of the spots that you can’t miss. If you are looking for a day of great wine, day drinking and some beautiful scenery, Sonoma County is the place to go. It is a short twenty-minute drive from the Santa Rosa Airport or roughly two hours from San Francisco International Airport. Bourbons, Tennessee whiskies are also popular in US bars.In India, Goa and Pondicherry are also ideal locales for drinking. Feni is a popular tipple of Goa. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore are big markets. Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata and Nashik are other popular cities for drinking.

Carnuntum is the newest DAC winegrowing region

The region has reached agreement on the three levels Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (‘villages’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine), and continues to emphasise the traditional and highly prized varieties: white wine vinified from Chardonnay, Weissburgunder or Grüner Veltliner, red wine from Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch.

The family of Austrian winegrowing regions with DAC status continues to grow: after thorough consideration and regional consensus, the winegrowing region Carnuntum submitted a draft DAC regulation, which has now been signed by the Federal Minister for Sustainability & Tourism Maria Patek. This makes Carnuntum the fourteenth Austrian winegrowing region with specific protections in place for regionally typical wines.

Willi Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) summarises: ‘With the DAC regulation that has now been enacted, Carnuntum is also embarking on the successful path of origin-based marketing. The winegrowers have succeeded in working out a profile that will unmistakably express and convey the characteristics of their region in both red and white wine, and will ensure even greater distinctiveness’.

Three levels, regionally typical grape varieties

Like the Steiermark, Kamptal, Kremstal and Traisental, the region Carnuntum – located in the eastern part of Austria between Vienna and the Slovak border, encompassing an area of 906 hectares under vines – will henceforth implement a three-level DAC regulation: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (‘villages’ wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine). The varietal palette focuses on the region’s marquee players: for white wines Chardonnay, Weissburgunder and Grüner Veltliner, and the reds Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch. Monovarietal Carnuntum DAC wines must be vinified exclusively from these varieties, while blends must contain at least two thirds of one of them. This means that cuvées can also contain up to a third of other approved Qualitätswein (quality wine) varieties – for example, in a red wine, Sankt Laurent, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Flavour profile

Carnuntum has been showing very well now for quite some time, with distinctive red wines and robustly structured whites. The new DAC regulation stipulates that all wines must conform to the flavour profile ‘dry’, and that red wines must also have an alcohol content of at least 12%. In addition, Ortswein and Riedenwein must be given adequate time to develop their distinctive and expressive character: the application for obtaining a Federal Inspection Number may not be submitted before 15 March for white wine and not before 1 November in the year following the harvest for red wine.

Rubin Carnuntum will remain

The established brand Rubin Carnuntum will remain in place parallel to the DAC regulation, and will continue to provide a guarantee of special and regionally typical wines vinified from the variety Zweigelt.

Was does DAC signify?

Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) is a legal indication of origin for regionally typical Austrian Qualitätswein. So if a wine label features the name of a winegrowing region in combination with ‘DAC’, one is guaranteed a wine of quality that is typical of the region. A DAC wine may only be produced from the grape varieties specified for that DAC region and must comply with all requirements of the regulation established by the region. There are currently 14 DAC winegrowing regions in Austria. Wines that do not meet the DAC requirements will bear the name of the respective federal state as an indication of provenance, as part of the variety of available wines at this level of origin.

Sula Vineyards crushes over 50% more Grapes in Harvest 2019 compared to 2018

Sula Vineyards crushed a total of over 9,000 tonnes of wine grapes in FY 2019-20, which is about 50% more than what was crushed by the company in FY 2018-19. According to the company, this was possible due to a decent monsoon and following conducive weather conditions for cultivating wine grapes. These figures are expected to help Sula cross its own record-breaking 2018 sales, over 1 million cases world-wide.

Chief Winemaker, Senior Vice President – Vineyard and Winery Operations Karan Vasani elaborated on the Harvest events: “This year, the distribution amongst the varietals was around 55% of red variety grapes and 45% of white grapes crushed. Most of the grapes are crushed and processed in Nashik and Southern parts of Maharashtra although some harvesting and crushing are also done in Karnataka for the wines to be made and sold in Karnataka by Sula Vineyards under its brand Kadu.”

While 2019 was positive for grape-growing conditions, the weather may be indicative of the impacts of climate change. The harvest was slightly delayed this year, starting in mid-December and went on till the first week of April.

“Wine-making is such an old process, the challenges will alw

ays be the weather,” explains Founder and CEO of Sula Vineyards Rajeev Samant. “Our planet is in danger and our priority needs to be our impact on the environment. There is lots of waste generated by the traditional production and crushing process. Instead, we use every part of the grape, from seed to skin. After the grape juice is extracted the seeds are used to make grapeseed oil and the remaining mulch becomes compost for our vines,” he explains. Sula Vineyards is committed to protecting India for the future by planting more and more trees.

Sula is also cultivating additional land across Maharashtra and Karnataka, giving a boost to the agri sector. Sula planted 360 acres in 2018 and will plant an additional 340 in 2019. This will take their total area under wine grape plantations to about 3000 acres which will also add to the rural employment numbers. Today, almost 510 farmers from Maharashtra and Karnataka are working with Sula with assured buy back contracts.

In general, Maharashtra saw a bumper grape harvest this season with figures from Nashik district, the heart of India’s grape region, crossing 1.43 lakh tonnes of grapes. About 2% of these grapes are wine grapes. However, except for 2017 when the highway liquor ban was put in motion, the Indian wine industry has recorded a steady growth in CAGR, which means that more and more Indians are drinking wine, in many cases switching away from hard liquor.