The Secret Behind The Chinese’s Love For Red Wine

Wines June 10, 2015
Blog Blog  /  Beverages  /  Wines
Author: Olga Minchina
Account Manager

China's wine market showed steady growth, rising from 1.59 million tonnes in 2007 to 2.08 million tonnes in 2013. Annual growth rate stood at 5%. In value terms, it expanded with a CAGR of 29%, reaching 20.9 billion USD in 2013.

China now consumes more red wine than France, becoming the leader in wine consumption. However, experts tend to attribute this trend more to culture rather than taste peculiarities. Being a highly positive color in China's culture, red encapsulates luck, wealth, as well as power - fundamental values in business circles. Moreover, this is the color of China, while white is perceived as the color related to death. Whereas red wine is a staple for banquets where partnerships are sealed, the white color is predominantly associated with funerals.

Chinese wine making dates back to ancient times, though traditionally such alcoholic drinks as huangjiu (also referred to as yellow wine) and a stronger distilled spirit baijiu were more consumed. The most celebrated and internationally recognized vineyards are situated in Ningxia, as well as in Beijing, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Yantai, Hebei, Jilin, Sichuan and Shanxi. Yantai-Penglai is the largest wine-making region, providing 40% of China's wine, with more than 140 wineries.

Some experts remark that increasing demand for wine in China is likely to be the fruit of westernization. In the past, wine used to be exclusively consumed by government officials and higher classes, whereas at present, wine is gaining more popularity among the middle class and lower income groups.

If we turn to taste preferences, Chinese consumers mostly opt for mild red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz blends. However, summers in China may be hot, and during this time demand for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio peaks. Well balanced, smooth and fruity wines perfectly supplement Chinese dishes, although many Chinese choose sweet dessert wines such as ice wines, Port, and Tokaji.

Domestic production dominated in supply and held about 82% in physical terms and 93% in value terms. That is why overall market dynamics is defined by production dynamics. Wine production showed similar dynamics over the last few years. From 2007 to 2013, China's wine production expanded to 1.70 million tonnes. In value terms it reached 19.4 billion USD.

In 2014, the main foreign destinations of China's wine were France (6.1%), Australia (2.4%) and the Netherlands (2.3%). The share of France increased (+2 percentage points), while the share of the Republic of Korea illustrated negative dynamics (-6 percentage points). The shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Source: China: Wine - Market Report. Analysis And Forecast To 2020