Mizoram’s ‘love potion’ wine to hit market in September

Aizawl, July 20 (IANS) Wine produced from premium quality grapes grown locally in the mountainous northeastern state of Mizoram is all set to hit the market in less then two months, with the state government relaxing strict prohibition laws after 13 years.

‘The first lot of wine produced in two local wineries would be available for sale some time in September with the production process already on,’ said Horticulture Director Samuel Rosanglura.

Mizoram, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh and known for its jagged peaks, lofty mountains and dense forests, produces the premium variety of Lubrusca grapes. Wine made from the fruit is said to be of high quality and commercially viable.

The wine with 14 percent alcohol content and filled in specially designed 750 ml bottles will be priced at Rs. 150 under the brand name of Zawlaidi, meaning love potion in the Mizo language.

The wine-making process is being monitored by experts from liquor major Shaw Wallace at the two wineries at Hnahlan and Champhai in the state.

‘To make the wine competitive and conform to international standards, experts from Shaw Wallace are already here to train and guide the winemakers,’ Vanlalruata Chenkual, managing director of the Grape Growers Society of Mizoram, told IANS.

According to plans, an estimated 100,000 bottles would hit the market this year.

‘The wine produced would be sold exclusively in Mizoram and not outside with the bottles having a label that would read ‘Not For Sale Outside Mizoram’,’ Chenkual said.

The Mizoram government relaxed stringent prohibition laws enforced in 1997 by allowing up to 16 percent alcohol content in the wine produced in the state.

Some 1,000 farmers in Mizoram grow an estimated 6,000 quintals of grapes annually in small to medium plantations spread over about 3,000 acres.

‘Experts say wine made from grapes produced here could easily be marketed in the international markets. But, for now, we will be focusing on the domestic market and then try to hit the global field,’ Rosanglura said.

With Mizoram’s climatic condition suitable for growing the high-quality Lubrusca variety of grapes that promise good returns, more and more farmers are setting up vineyards.

Locals make wine for domestic consumption or for sacramental use in churches.

(Zarir Hussain can be contacted at zarir.h@ians.in)

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