It's been a long journey for India and champagne, going back over three centuries and in 2017, over 400,000 bottles of the bubbly were shipped to India in spite of the high taxes, says the head of a key French organisation that ensures that only the original product is served around the world.
"Champagne and India have a long story that dates back to the first shipments in the 18th century. Maharajas were the most important consumers of this new wine at that time. Since then, shipments have continued and Champagne enjoys a great recognition, which was confirmed with the registration of the Champagne appellation by India in 2008," Vincent Perrin, Directeur General of Comitï¿½ Champagne, told IANS in an email interview.
How would he describe the journey over the past decade and how have the two sides benefited?
Noting that one of the Comitï¿½ Champagne's key missions is to ensure that the name Champagne is reserved only for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France to give "to our winegrowers and houses the best environment to sell their wines", Perrin added: "To achieve this objective, education programmes and protection of the Champagne name are two levers that we continuously use."
To this end, the registration of the Champagne appellation, which was renewed recently, "is a recognition of the reputation of Champagne wines on Indian territory. It's also a guarantee for Indian consumers of the origins of the wines," added Perrin, who joined the Comitï¿½ Champagne in September 2014 after an extensive career in diplomacy and international business development.
Speaking about the impact of the association on India-France relations, Perrin said Champagne has had a strong connect with India "and it perhaps showcases best the French art de vivre. We hope that this relation will only grow and strengthen in the future".
How does he foresee the roadmap for the future?
"As India emerges as a global economic power, Indians who are likely to consume luxury products should increase in the coming years and wines play a growing part in the drink sector. There is a strong potential, despite high taxes, for Champagne wines which have grown steadily over the years.
Educational tools, including e-learning like the 'Champagne Campus' app, have been developed by the Comitï¿½ Champagne to educate a wide audience, both in France and abroad, about the wine-growing region of Champagne the vines, winemaking process, tasting et al. These will help more Indians approach champagne with more confidence.