World / Europe

Raising a glass to China's new found enthusiasm for wine

By Carolynn Look ( Updated: 2014-09-12 22:06
Raising a glass to China's new found enthusiasm for wine

Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux and Spa in France's south-west, offers a wine concierge service, the first of its kind in Europe. Provided to China Daily

With wine consumption having increased dramatically in recent years, wine companies, hotels and vineyards in Europe are trying to lure Chinese consumers.

Situated at the heart of the world's largest area of fine wine vineyards, Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux and Spa in France's south-west offers a wine concierge service, the first of its kind in Europe.

The hotel welcomes people from all over the world, especially the Chinese who are increasingly interested in wine.

As part of its program of activities, the wine concierge service has created the 'wine journey series', providing guests with the rare opportunity to discover the region's finest grand cru wineries and embark on two journeys, available all year round: the 'classic car wine journey' and 'Jefferson wine journey'.

The wine concierges handle all the logistics to provide guests with an unsurpassed level of access to this unique wine heritage.

Despite the popularity of domestically produced wine, sales of foreign wines in China are increasing, and many Western brands are tapping into the market. Australian wine exports to China increased by 84 percent between 2008 and 2009.

French wine sales in China have an estimated value of 800 million euros, and account for nearly 30 percent of Bordeaux's total wine exports.

In the case of red wine, China has surpassed the consumption of connoisseurs in France and become the beverage's biggest consumer in the world.

Some 1.86 billion bottles of red were consumed in China last year, showing a clear preference for the red variant over white, as it makes up about 85 percent of total consumption.

Since 2005, sales of red wine in China have increased by more than 175 percent, while at the same time sales decreased in France and Italy.

It is speculated that its color is a big reason as to why there is such a strong preference. Red is considered symbolic for luck, wealth and power, and is also the color that represents China. White is usually an emblem of death, and is therefore less successful.

However, as wine in general gains popularity in China, experts believe it is likely sales of white wine and other foreign alcoholic beverages will increase.

In addition, Chinese people have become increasingly aware of and knowledgeable about wine and wine culture over the past few years, with an increasing number of tasting events being held across major cities.

However, industry insiders say the process of getting a foreign wine on the shelves of Chinese supermarkets can be quite different compared to other countries.

Branding is a critical point, and requires a lot more cultural knowledge than one would expect.

Zhang Chunyan contributed to this story.

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