Ready to hear something amazing? China is the second largest cultivator of wine grapes in the world – just after Spain – and they are seriously focused on expanding and refining their place in the wine world. In light of this information, I thought it was a good time to explore Chinese wine. Thank you to CelebrationsWineClub.com, Bloomberg, NewYorker.com and ChinaTravel.com for their help with this article. If you missed my recent blog posts about Asian wine in Napa Valley, please check out my articles on Kieu Hoang Winery and Yao Family Wines.
Chinese Enthusiasm for Wine
Chinese enthusiasm for red wine started about 20 years ago, with the development of a middle class who, being brand conscious, were very excited about French red wine. The French were equally excited about these new consumers, so they marketed heavily to them and invested in three local wineries: Great Wall, Dynasty, and Changyu. The combined revenues of these three companies is about eight billion dollars! In addition to these investments, Rothschild and LVMH Moet Hennessy planted numerous vineyards.
Chinese Wine Today
Do we need to worry about China taking over the wine world? Not immediately. Chinese wine is in its infancy. Their vineyards are very young, and those that are producing are largely producing low-value wines. However, given the governmental focus on this industry, the tides are likely to change quickly.
How Did We Get Here?
As I mentioned earlier, the burgeoning Chinese middle class prompted a focus on higher end wines during the 1990s. The tremendous uptick in Chinese wine consumption and production since then has been pretty remarkable. China is now the seventh largest producer of wine globally, has more acreage devoted to vineyards than any other country besides Spain, and is the biggest consumer in the world of red wine!
Ningxia is the Hot Spot
Of the dozen or so wine-growing regions in China, Ningxia, 550 miles west of Beijing in central China, is the most important. It has around 100 wineries spread across 100 miles. In 2016, it produced 120 million bottles of wine.
So far, most of the wines produced in Ningxia are Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet blends, and, on a much smaller scale, Chardonnays. The Chinese drink way more red wine than white. I read one article that said the breakdown was 90 percent red and 10 percent white.
Wine critic Jancis Robinson says the wines are closer in style to French wine than California wine. This undoubtedly is due to France’s heavy involvement with the Chinese wine industry.
While Ningxia is the wine capital of China, outside of the wine industry, it is a pretty underdeveloped place. Hopefully, the heavy investment in wine will improve the living situation for everybody who lives there.
Have you tried Chinese wine yet? What did you think? I would love to hear about your experiences. Xièxiè (thank you in Chinese).
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
WineShop At Home