Here are some fun facts on Chinese wine consumption and production…
• Wine consumption in China has increased considerably. Since 2006, the market has experienced annualized growth in excess of 20%, and according to consulting firm International Wine Spirit Research, China was the seventh-largest consumer of wine by volume in 2011. China has the potential to overtake the US and become the largest wine-consuming country in the world within the next 20 years.
• Increased wine consumption has been driven by a variety of factors including the growth of the middle class, the government’s promotion of wine as a healthy alternative to other alcoholic beverages (such as baijiu), and declining tariffs on wine imports.
• More than 90% of the wine consumed in China is red wine. This preference is attributed to cultural factors, including associations with sophistication and health.
• Entertaining and gift-giving occasions drive the bulk of wine consumption. The Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival account for about 60% of annual wine sales.
• The Chinese have a strong preference for imported wine, particularly French wine, and by 2010 more than 20% of all wine consumed was imported—a 400% increase since 2005. China is now Bordeaux’s #1 export market.
• Three domestic producers Changyu Pioneer Wine, Great Wall Wine and Dynasty Wine, account for nearly half the total wine sales in China; only about 2% of their production is exported. While there are some mid-range and premium priced domestic wines, domestic wines tend to be sold at the lower end of the price spectrum—about US$3–US$5 per bottle.
• The quality of domestically produced Chinese wine is improving. In September 2011, for the first time in the history of the Decanter World Wine Awards, a Chinese wine won at the highest level. Winery He Lan Qing Xue’s Jia Bei Lan 2009 Cabernet blend won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £10 International Trophy. The wine was produced in Ningxia, a remote region in northern China that began growing grapes for fine wine about a decade ago. Moët Hennessy is establishing a vineyard in Ningxia to produce sparkling wine.
• Chinese celebrities are helping to increase the popularity of wine. Retired basketball star Yao Ming, who says he started to appreciate wine when he was with the NBA, has established a wine company in Napa—Yao Family Wines. The company recently released Yao Ming 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, priced at 3800 Yuan (about US$600) a magnum.
Sources: China Daily, Decanter, Knowledge@Wharton, Reuters, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, and The Wall Street Journal.