China Grows Taste For Wine
Wine is becoming more popular in China. In Beijing, a class of Chinese citizens with money to burn are sipping top brands from around the world–and even locally grown wines.
A growing Chinese passion for high-end wines, and the lifestyle they represent, is fueling a booming domestic market with a focus on well-known brands.
In the outskirts of Beijing stands Beijing Lafitte Hotel, a replica of a French chateau. Here, wine enthusiasts sip a taste of several choice imports from France, Chile, Italy and Australia.
“Lafite wine gives the impression of being a rare, expensive and elegant product. I think Lafitte Hotel is also very elegant and our service makes customers feel very familiar and respected.”
The hotel is a well-received venue for wine tasting. It offers wines ranging from to almost ,500.
There are several vineyards in China, some created with help from foreign specialists. But well-to-do Chinese wine lovers still prefer the real thing from France.
“The learned people who are really into structure and flavor, the longevity of wines and that, they are looking at a range of wine styles. And they probably started off oddly with the red wines and the more they learn they go to the whites. Most other countries they start off with whites and go to red, so there is a point of difference in this country.”
The fact that wine is a less strong alcohol is helping to drive the Chinese wine market.
“There is a Chinese saying that if there is no alcohol then there is no banquet. When I hang out with my friends, we drink different kinds of alcohol according to different occasions. For instance, if there is a birthday party I would bring champagne and in normal banquets I would bring red and white wine. If there are more women attending a banquet, then I would bring sweet wine.”
Last year, China became the biggest export market outside the European Union for Bordeaux wines in volume, ahead of the U.S., with retailers placing China as the world’s fifth biggest wine market.