China is not the first country that pops into the head of most people when thinking about wine but it actually has a rich wine culture with quite a bit going on right now.
Here are five things currently happening in China’s wine world.
- Due to a huge crackdown on government officials overspending on entertaining, prime label wines are not being sold at a high rate. This is causing premium labels like Dynasty to create wines for a cheaper market. While Dynasty’s bottles usually go for about $80, they have recently launched four new bottles available for between $24-48. The business hopes that by diversifying it will make up for lost revenues now that the diplomats aren’t drinking as much.
- China is interested in becoming a player on the world wine stage. In the past Chinese wines were looked down upon as overly oaky, bitter and tannic. Lately, though, the Chinese winemaking community has been focused on growing better grapes and inviting winemakers in from outside of the country to help develop wines that are more sophisticated. A recent panel of wine experts invited to Beijing were impressed with wines made from Chinese grapes.
- China is determined to create a wine destination comparable to the United States’ Napa Valley. Plans are underway to develop the “International Grape Exhibition Garden” – a collection of vineyards it hopes will rival Napa or Bourdeaux. Plans for the park include a museum dedicated to grapes, $10 entrance fee, and ability to use the site for weddings, photo shoots and other events.
- China is officially the country where the most wine is drunk. Chinese citizens are quickly maturing as wine drinkers and developing their palates.
- Production of wine began sometime around the year 4000 B.C. Initially it was used ceremonially or for health and was made of grains like rice and not fruit. While rice wine is more difficult to make, grapes are grown seasonally and do not stay fresh for long so it made more sense to store wine and use it so that wine stores were not depleted.It looks like China might become a major player in the wine world – keep your eyes out for Chinese bottles at your local wine store and give it a try.