Decades ago, wine was a luxury for most Chinese people, but now it has become more mainstream.
In many cities like Shanghai, imported wine is easily found at most supermarkets, and many of them are in growing demand — particularly French wines.
According to CCTV, some customers seem quite professional in judging the quality, even though they are not wine connoisseurs.
A customer said, “Sometimes when you turn it upside down there are a lot of bubbles. Good wines don’t have bubbles.”
French wine is becoming more popular than ever in China. Statistics show the industry grew by 145 percent in 2007 alone, pushing China to the 11th largest market by value for French wines and spirits.
French wine merchants are optimistic about the future of the booming market. But what pleases them even more is the growing interest in wine culture.
Store manager Jean Philippe Soulet observed, “When I first arrived in China in 1999, I was selling wine to my Chinese clients. I was always a bit frustrated, because I knew that they would add soda in the red wine. Today the situation is completely different. Here our best clients are the Chinese who are very well-educated in wine culture, and know the product well.”
People’s consumption of wine is in line with their growing income and improving lifestyle. And the Chinese government also has promoted the industry since the 1990s in an attempt to decrease the consumption of traditional Chinese white wine, which is higher in alcohol.
Many Chinese now buy wines not only for drinking, but also as an investment.
Bao Wei, a wine collector, said, “From my understanding, wine is a healthy beverage. Also, you can invest in it because it can rise in value. It’s also a cultural challenge, so ”m interested in it.”
In traditional Chinese restaurants, wine sales are climbing. It’s unknown whether imported wines will take the place of traditional Chinese spirits, but right now they are mixing well into Chinese culture.