Bordain Provides a Glimpse at the Possible Future of Wine

Yuyuan District of Shanghai, China at NightI’m an Anthony Bordain fan. I admire his willingness to go just about anywhere and try any kind of food, and I enjoy the way he presents his findings on his CNN program, “Anthony Bordain: Parts Unknown.”

I can’t tell you how often I’ve watched one his programs, seen him eat some exotic dish, and wondered what type of wine I’d drink with it. Bordain is no help in that regard, by the way; you’ll occasionally see him with a glass of wine, but there is no discussion about what type it is, or why it’s being consumed with the given dish.

Still, it’s a compelling program and, at least to me, much more entertaining than watching a chef yell at his underlings, or people compete to become the next “Top Chef.” (Does every TV program have to be a reality show?)

CNN has been running blocks of Bordain programs on Friday nights, and last Friday’s offerings included a show on Shanghai. It was the first episode of season four, and even though I’d seen it before, I decided to watch it again because I remembered it being more “wine intensive” than usual.

My memory did not fail me. The show included a segment in which Bordain went inside the cellar of one of China’s emerging wealthy class — a cellar that included just about every high-end bottling that one could imagine from prestigious wine regions around the world.

In the emerging China, it would seem, status is demonstrated not just by big houses and fancy cars, but also by impressive wine collections. And, believe me, this one was impressive. (And so was the cellar, which looked to be larger than many homes.)

You can see a preview of the Shanghai episode here.

Watching the program for a second time also reminded me of a sobering statistic for all American wine lovers: In the year preceding the program’s initial air date, more bottles of red wine were shipped to China than were consumed in the United States.

Think about that for a moment, and then consider the law of supply and demand. Should China’s upper and middle classes continue to expand, the desire for the finer things in life is sure to go along with it. In the past, China wasn’t even a blip on the global wine sales radar. Today, it’s a major player… and poised to become a mega-player.

With only so much wine to go around and increasing demand for it, you know what that will do to prices.

The 20th century was the American Century, and countless pundits have suggested that the 2000s will be the Chinese Century. If that turns out to be true, we all may end up paying more for the adult beverage we’ve come to know and love.

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