The Indian government has set up a committee to formulate a wide-ranging policy designed to enhance wine making and consumption in the country.

The committee, which was created today (17 October), will look to create a policy which will identify wine separate from hard liquor, provide a new duty and tax structure, and allow sales in department stores.

According to an official in the ministry of food processing, "the committee, which includes excise secretaries from all states, has met twice and will submit its report by February".

Department stores in Maharashtra and Karnataka are allowed to sell wine at present and Delhi is expected to follow next.

India's wine consumption is 3.5m bottles annually and is growing at 30% as the beverage gains popularity among the middle classes.

The country is keen to capitalise on this growth, the official said. "The ministry has set up a National Wine Board to develop standards and promote domestic wine industry and compete with imported wines."