Yesterday I walked into the HyperCity supermarket (“HYPERCITY” ), with the hope of buying some 10 items that my daughter had listed down in less than 45 minutes. On a Christmas day, the supermarket was less crowded than I thought it would be (it was a Saturday, when usually the 12 Noon crowd is large, as they probably get there after a late breakfast !). Onions were the last thing on my mind, though there was a huge board displayed at the entrance which listed the market prices of key vegetables as against Hyper City’s rather special prices (not really special, I thought after a glance). Onions have become hot political potatoes in India in the past week or so, given the rather rapid rise in the street prices, and it is an established fact that onions can bring down governments (the NCR – New Delhi Capital Region government fell in 1998/99 because of the same reason).
As I had expected while reading the board at the entrance, there were a number of people surrounding the onion counter, hoping to save some INR 10 from the outside market price. I noticed that in general, the veggies’ prices have gone up considerably. But usually I don’t shop for vegetables, so my sense of the “veggie economics” was dimmer than it would otherwise be.
After I completed picking up the few items that were on the list, I migrated towards my favourite section of the supermarket – the Wines section ! Hyper City has vastly expanded this section, in keeping with the market requirements. This time I was a little taken aback when going through the stuff there – the Indian wines have been relegated to lower shelves and the varieties have been reduced – more prominence has been given to all the imported wines and spirits, which few people were buying anyway (when I went yesterday). The knowledge on wines is meagre and most people do not understand the difference between a Shiraz and a Merlot, or even a Sauvignon Blanc : this was evident when the lady in front of me asked the sales man (who was trying to push some new wine) about the difference between the same, and the sales man took the easy way out without any explanation – he told her to get the Syrah (Shiraz) as that would be “easy on her”. Amazing, isn’t it ? Still a long way to go when the retail sales people assume (rather correctly, I would say) that the shoppers have no clue about wines.
Well, the same sales man smiled at me innocuously and asked me if I was looking for wines. And when I said yes, he immediately started pushing the same new wine, highlighting the prices with no mention of the characteristics of the wine. He said that these prices are comparable to the Sula wine prices – in fact, almost exactly the same. And, I looked at the manufacturer details, and was I surprised ? The wine was branded as “Mokssh”, manufactured and bottled by Vintage Wines Pvt Ltd., an established wine maker from the Nashik Region of Maharashtra. It was co-branded with Living Liquidz (“LIVING LIQUIDZ” ), a distribution channel for wines and spirits.
What attracted me was the pedigree of the manufacturer and the unique packaging of the bottle. I picked up a Chenin Blanc and it did not disappoint. I am not disagreeing with the claim of the manufacturer which read as follows – “A bright wine having floral bouquet with intense lime and honey flavours and crisp acidity”. Certainly it is a good white, but for the long finish I could not detect a big difference between this and Riveilo brand of the same manufacturer.
The Mokssh brand has some promise in terms of branding, store positioning, salesman talk (though to the uninitiated !), and packaging. I will surely try the reds in the near future. Indian wine is coming of age, but requires more push marketing with knowledge delivery on the finesse, taste, vintage, food matching, flavour, etc., etc., Long way to go before wine can match the hard liquor preference of Indians, but Mumbai is surely setting the trend.
26th December 2010