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Bringing chardonnay to Chennai
By Paul Kaihla, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The increasingly refined tastes of India's burgeoning middle class means the wine market there is set to grow tenfold.

Investment level: <$100K

Risk level: Low

India's rapidly expanding middle class isn't just interested in motor scooters, Levi's, and the coolest new cell phones. They'd also like to see a decent chardonnay on the dinner menu.

With wine consumption in India projected to grow 10-fold over the next decade, the nation has emerged as the world's fastest-growing market.

More important, it's become a prime destination to start importing U.S., Australian, and other labels to satisfy Indians' increasingly cosmopolitan tastes.

For one thing, the wine boom will largely bypass domestic brands; the country is too hot for serious viticulture.

And the Indian government has been slashing duties and excise taxes on imported wine during the past two years. An American importer who gets in early and establishes a foothold will reap the benefits of even lower duties down the road.

Setting up shop requires first owning the distribution rights to the right selection of wines. At the top of that list, experts say, should be fruity whites from California and Australia - products that did well in the United States when wine took off in the 1980s.

You don't need an import license; anyone can bring wine from abroad into a warehouse bonded by the nation's customs office. Top of page

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