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Indian Wine and Wine Legislation: A Future Development?

A few months ago, I came across an article posted by the Indian Wine Academy that I thought to be particularly interesting. The article, The Growing Need for Wine Laws in India, attracted me because I so rarely come across research on India and wine law. In fact, I can say quite candidly that I’ve never even tasted Indian wine before. Setting aside any cultural orders or norms that may restrict or downright prohibit consumption of wine within India, I am still unfamiliar with any wine products exported from the country. (I am an advocate of trying different wines when I am out to eat or when I peruse the aisle of my local wine store. While I’ve had the pleasure of tasting some unique wines in the last few years, including a Tunisian bottle that just made my list of favorites and an Ethiopian bouquet of honey wine, I do not believe I am yet to taste wine from India.) While the article reposted by the Indian Wine Academy discusses the relative definition of wine laws and the functions of said laws from both a domestic and international perspective, the article itself does not actually advocate why India needs wine laws. Although the author suggests a list of considerations Indian legislators should be mindful of when implementing wine regulations, the article itself does not directly detail the caveats of the current lack of Indian legislation for wine. At the time of my reading the article, I could only surmise that the connection between espousing wine regulation in India and the international market was to promote the growth of Indian wines through transnational wine trade.

Since my initial reading of the above article, much developed with respect to the global trade of Indian wines. For example, an article titled India Struggles to Develop Taste for Wine details the limited interest in wine that seems to be prevalent throughout the country. Just recently, The Times of India announced that the Indian Grape Processing Board (“IGPB”) plans to implement legislation to regulate winemaking and, in turn, the internal standards of the Indian wine industry. (See Legislation Planned to Make Indian Wine World-Class.) The Times of India reports that, “[t]here will be laws regarding the manufacture of wine, quality, brand and marketing. All wine-related practices-manufacturing, agricultural, critical point analysis, food safety norms-will come under the legislation.” (Id.) Representatives from the IGPB indicate that these regulations will, in time, allow the international market to recognize Indian wines, as well as improve the quality of Indian wine products. (See id.) Currently, in India, “any name can be given to wine made from table grapes or wine variety grapes.” (Id.) After new legislation is implemented, the IGPB reports that a grapegrower in one region will not be allowed to label his wine as that from a different region that is geographically recognized under the legislation. To some extent, early talks seem to indicate that India will create a system that is similar to the appellation of origin system widely discussed and used as a model by many global wine producers.

While India can be expected to develop legislation with respect to its wine production and grape growing over the next few years, critics seem hopeful that there is room for India to capture a respectable slice in the international wine trade market, in addition to a development of an internal wine cultural. See Wine and the India EU Free Trade Agreement and Revisiting the Indian Wine Market. The course of the development of wine laws and regulations in India will be a topic for future consideration on this blog.

Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

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