Business / Industries

More Chinese students flock to wine industry

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-03-05 08:11

"I have discovered that it takes 500 years to produce a good wine," said Wu, who juggles his studies with work at a well-known restaurant that offers Chinese cuisine with Bordeaux wines.

His classmate, 23-year-old Zhou Zhize, admitted that he "had tasted wine from Argentina and Australia in China, but not French wine which is too expensive".

Yet he dropped biology for wine studies, saying enrolment in a Bordeaux school is now a sign of prestige back home.

"There are always stories that the Chinese add coke to their wine and drink it like that," said INSEEC student Guo Difan, 25.

"It's true," he laughed. "I even did that when I was young. But now we (are) more serious, that's to say that people want to really understand wine."

Not all comes easy, like the notion of "terroir", the term for the unique characteristics a certain region imparts to food or wine and is the basis of France's strict Appellation d'Origine Controlee wine classification system.

"It is very surprising," said Guo, who also interns in a local wine shop.

"Chateaux that are close to each other can produce wines that are very different."

Initially the Chinese students were affluent, even super-rich, but like Guo, more and more hold down jobs to finance their stays with costs running from 3,800 euros ($4,300) to 20,000 euros for tuition alone.

And with the Bordeaux vineyards among the first to target the Chinese market, students see a diploma here as an open door to a job.

They are solicited by both sides-not only by Bordeaux exporters seeking to understand the Chinese market but also by Chinese firms that have increasingly invested in the area, where they now own about 100 vineyards, according to the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wines.

The Chateau Valandraud, which produces a Premiere Grand Cru classe Saint-Emilion, has two full-time Chinese people on staff.

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