New Delhi: The Latin American nation of Chile is keen to introduce its national brew, a spicy red wine, in the Indian market.

The South American country is scouting for importers to push the wine to India, where awareness of wine as a delectable beverage has been growing since the last decade.

Carmenere, a vintage French wine, was "rescued" by Chile 150 years after it disappeared from vineyards across Europe. The soft wine which tastes of pepper, blackcurrants and spices complements spicy Indian fare laced with green and red chillies.

"Chile has the seventh largest presence in the foreign wine segment in the India after France, Italy, Australia, UK, New Zealand and South Africa. We export different varieties of wine to India, but we are eager to introduce our national wine, Carmenere, to this country where people are beginning to enjoy wine," Christian Barros, the ambassador of Chile to India, told the media person at a Chilean wine tasting show in the capital.

The display of Chilean wine at the Hotel Lalit Tuesday evening featured 10 brands, including the traditional Carmenere and Malbec red wines, typical of the Latin American region.

Other red wine genres like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and the blends (mix of several red wines) also vied for attention with the white varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Chile has a long viti-cultural history of "new world wines", coinciding roughly with the discovery and occupation of America across the seas by the European explorers.

"Nearly 150 years ago, in the mid-19th century, a pestilence phylloxera destroyed vineyards in Europe and crops of Carmenere were wiped out. Fourteen years ago, a Frenchman working at a Chilean winery discovered that one the strains imported from France in 19th century was of the Carmenere grapes. After a series of tests and tastings, he isolated the Carmenere cuttings," Barros said.

The envoy added that "Carmenere had survived in Chile because the country had been free of pestilence".

"We are looking for Indian importers for our national wine, Carmenere. Right now, varieties of Merlot, Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc make up 80 percent of our sale in India," Christian Sotomayor, a spokesperson for Valdivieso, winery which makes fresh wines, told the media person.

"Importers of Carmenere are difficult to find because of the steep costs of shipments and tariff," Rodrigo Vera Ch. of CasaDonoso winery, which produces vintage brew, said.

The wines have to be shipped half way around the world and Indian importers want to place safe bets on known brands, he added.

Chilean wines "are doing very well in the new world wine category", sommelier Magandeep Singh told the media person.

"They give great value for money because Chile has to compete with the US wine made in California, which is one of the best in the world. They are almost up to the American standards," he stated.

A bottle of Chilean wine costs between Rs.1,500 to Rs.3,000 in the Indian market. In 2010, India had imported 70,612 litres of Chilean wine valued at USD168,305, a trade estimate said.

Wine consumption in India is likely to reach around 14.7 million litres (in volume terms) by the end of 2012 from around 4.6 million litres in 2008, registering a growth of 35 percent during the course of four years, says an analysis of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

According to the analysis, the Indian wine market stood at Rs.800 crore (USD160 million) in 2008 and is likely to touch Rs.2,700 crore (USD560 million) mark by the end of 2012.

(Agencies)