A few years ago, the British press ran stories about M&S and Waitrose championing Indian wine brands. But interest has waned. So where are the Indian wine stockists in the UK now?
On a recent trip to India I was surprised to learn that the region near where I was staying (on the west coast, near Mumbai) was known for its vineyards. One Indian wine brand, in particular, was everywhere I went. Sula Vineyards enjoy quite the monopoly over there, producing a wide range of varietals, from Shiraz and Cab Sauvignon to Viognier and even Riesling. Back home, I sought out Indian wine stockists in the UK. This turned out to be harder than anticipated.
Google revealed that Waitrose and M&S stocked Indian wine, but further investigation revealed the lines had been discontinued. A spokesperson for M&S said “We are out of stock of the Syrah and there are no plans to continue this line. The Sauvignon Blanc is currently low in stock across the country.” Not too promising then.
The PR for Waitrose, meanwhile, was succinct in her response of “I’m afraid we do not stock any Indian wine brands”.
It seems that the British broadsheets’ hyperbolic stories with headlines like “Indian wines fly off British Shelves” (from The Guardian) were out of date, at best.
By far my most comprehensive source of information about Indian wines came from Alok Mathur, the owner of Midlands-based producer and importer Soul Tree Wine, who told me…
“Soul Tree is primarily available in the in-trade, as is most Indian wine imported to the UK. With listings in over 1,000 outlets in the UK, Soul Tree is by far the biggest brand – most of these are Indian restaurants dotted across the country, but there is a rapidly increasing number of mainstream restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, and independent retailers listing the wines too. Marks & Spencer have been selling an Indian wine – Jewel of Nashik – for the last couple of years or so.”
Where To Buy?
So the answer to the question of where to buy Indian wine in the UK is “not many places”. Major retailers Oddbins, Laithwaites, Majestic and Davy’s have nothing. Nor do any of the supermarket chains. And you’re not that likely to find it in your local independent wine shop either (if you’re fortunate enough to have one — they’re almost as rare as record shops). So unless you get lucky at Marks and Spencer, your best bet is to order it online from Soul Tree or Wine Direct (see links at the bottom).
It’s a shame the British public hasn’t taken to Indian wines, because they do produce some decent stuff. It might not be up there with the best of Bordeaux, but as we love Indian food so much, why not take a chance on their wine?
Perhaps the UK’s Indian wine renaissance is still to come.