Red Wine, China and France…

MARKET news: There were 1.86bn bottles of RED Wine sold in the People’s Republic of China in 2013…wait for it…MORE than in FRANCE! OMG! Sacre bleu! Mon Dieu! Yes, it is official. China with its billions freed from the yoke and chains of communism now yearn for all the bourgeoisie pleasures previously banned by Chairman Mao. That includes red wine, especially famous labels from the Old World…like Bordeaux and Burgundy.

China‘s drinkers quaffed (and/or re-exported) 1.86 billion bottles of ‘vin rouge’ (red wine) in 2013. This spells an increase of 136% over five years, making the PRC (China) the top market for red wine.

Some wine experts attribute this phenomenon to cultural and historical sensibilities rather than taste. Paired with rising affluence, it has also led to increasing buy up of French vineyards by wealthy PRC Chinese, something which has not been welcomed by some French traditionalists.

In China, RED is considered a very auspicious and lucky colour…hence drinking RED wine is de rigeur. Moreover, the official colour of the Chinese Communist Party which has been in power since 1949 is RED. and is also affiliated with the Communist government, while white is associated with death and is predominantly seen at funerals.

France, where consumption of red wine is dropping, came in second! Italy, previously the world’s biggest producer of wine, came in third. second place in this league, followed by Italy. This is from official figures compiled by the International Wine and Spirit Research company based in London, UK.

The US remains the world’s biggest market for all colours of wines, said VINEXPO, the Bordeaux chamber of commerce organisation that commissioned the IWSR study.

A VINEXPO spokesman explained, “Apart from the healthy aspect in comparison to the excessive consumption of rice wines, the success of red wine [in China] is largely down to the symbolism of its colour..” He continued, “Red is a very positive colour in Chinese culture and is synonymous with wealth, power and luck. In the business world these three values are fundamental, therefore red wine is often found in banquets to seal partnerships. And red is also the colour of China.” The point that it is not so much for the taste, but rather to be seen drinking expensive wines a la the “LABEL drinker” is probably true, as many ‘nouveau riche’ are known to add Coca Cola and ice cubes to premium vintage Chateau wines!

Guillaume Deglise, Vinexpo’s new chief executive, said bluntly: “White is the colour of death (to the Chinese). So you don’t want to drink that, and why would you?”

Guillaume added that as the Chinese market matured he would expect white wines and champagne sales to rise.

Demand for red wine in China has grown steadily since the mid 2000s and today’s sales figures are more than 175% higher than those for 2005. During the same period red wine sales dropped by 18% in France and by 5.8% in Italy.

Researchers believe that drinkers in the Asia-Pacific region will be imbibing more than 4bn bottles of different wines per year by 2017.

Economists see Chinese drinkers’ growing taste for wine as evidence of the creeping westernisation of the country. Wine was once the prerogative of government and party officials and wealthy businessmen. The Communist Party’s crackdown on corruption and corporate excesses have forced wine and spirit companies plus wine-makers to hunt for a new customer base. This they have found in the nouveau riche who openly disdain communist austerity for ALL the trappings of capitalism and western bourgeoisie like wine, yachts and fancy sports cars. The auctioneer Christie’s opened the world’s first estate agency for wealthy Chinese who like wine so much they want to buy the vineyards in France in 2013.

In 2012 Christie’s sold more than £23m worth of wine at nine sales in Hong Kong.

China is now the fourth largest export market for French burgundy producers behind Japan, Britain and the US.

Overall, Americans remain the world’s most prolific consumers of still and sparkling wine, drinking nearly 325m nine-litre cases in 2012, followed by France with just over 303m cases, and Italy with about 297m. Germany is in fourth place with 278m cases, then China with 172m and the UK with 135m. The top 10 is completed by Argentina, Russia, Spain and Australia.

The view from Beijing

The stereotype of a Chinese wine drinker is the businessman easing into a deal, probably with an official, over a bottle of Chateau Lafite, its label prominently displayed.

But the austerity and anti-corruption drive of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has led to a marked decline in conspicuous consumption and sales of high-end wine.

While imports to China rose 5% by volume last year, their value grew just 0.5%, said Jim Boyce, writer of the Grape Wall of China blog.

 

On perd ce que l’on tient quand on veut gagner tout.Jean-Pierre Claris de FLORIAN, Fables : Le Chat et les rats

One loses what one has when one wants to get everything.

Those with no culture believe falsely that mere wealth can replace their lack of culture.

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About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cusines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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