Wine lovers in Patna would no longer have to rush to other cities to buy the nectar of Bacchus. Retail outlets in the city would stock both red and white wine in three months. Both Indian as well as foreign brands would be available.
State excise commissioner Rahul Singh told The Telegraph: “At present, there is no provision in the Bihar Excise Act for the sale of wine as there was no demand for such liquor earlier. But the times are changing. The department has initiated amendments in the act. We hope that in a matter of three months, the liquor retail shops here will start stocking wines. They are categorised under the bracket of low alcoholic beverages and foreign liquor bottled abroad.”
Once the amendment to include low alcoholic beverages and foreign liquor bottled abroad in the act is passed in the Assembly, the excise department would prepare a list of brands. The manufacturers would send the consignments to the Bihar State Beverages Corporation Limited godown. These would then be supplied to the retailers, from where people would be able to purchase them.
At present, those who wish to savour wines have to order it from other cities.
A senior IPS officer told The Telegraph: “Drinking wine occasionally is good for health. When I need wine, I ask my friends in Calcutta to get it for me. It is easily available there; even shopping malls have wine outlets. One can easily get a bottle of red or white wine. Indian varieties are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. Expensive foreign brands are also available.”
In Patna, most bars do not serve wine. Among all the hotels and restaurants where The Telegraph inquired, only hotel Chanakya said they serve wines. But the upscale hotel and its wine menu may be way beyond the means of most citizens.
Not that there isn’t a demand for wine. Sources said youths — especially those who come to study at different institutes and colleges in Patna — have added to the demand.
A source said: “For youths who live in metropolitan cities like Calcutta or Mumbai, wine is a common thing. When they come to Patna, they search for wine here as well.”
Sources at the excise department said Bihar is tagged as “backward” and most market experts feel there is no demand for wine, which is considered to be suave liquor.
An excise department official told The Telegraph: “The state is still tagged as “backward”. But things have started to change now. There is a demand for wines. We have floated the idea but the intricate details like what brands would be allowed have not been decided yet. There are a number of Indian companies that manufacture wines now. We are considering them as well.”
Alcohol sellers, too, are upbeat about the initiative.
Nawal Kishore Singh, the president of Patna District Foreign Liquor Retailers’ Association, said: “This is a very good move.”