Staggeringly, China has the fourth largest vineyard planted area in the world! Many grapes that are grown though, are table grapes or for raisins, but there is a huge potential in wine making ready to be unleashed!
Red is the lucky colour of China so the winemaker’s goal is to successfully produce top quality reds to meet this ever growing demand for red wine which has emerged in the last thirty years.
Massive Western influence on a new generation of culture, lifestyle and cuisine, has led winemakers to meet this demand by attempting to produce International variety-based wines in extremely difficult climatic conditions such as harsh rains, rot, monsoons etc.
Many Chinese are enjoying drinking wine with their food. As I’ve said there is a huge variety now of Western cuisine which influences this matching of food and wine. These Western ways have led to foreign investment in the country and from partnerships such as Remy Martin and Torres of Spain.
The wine market is generally based on foreign imports, of bulk wine and in a small percentage of fine wines. Everyone wants to crack the Chinese market and there is an ever increasing demand to meet.
France leads the way here, with Australia, Portugal, Chile, the US and Italy all wanting to increase their exports of wine to China. This is either sold straight or blended with local grape varieties and labelled ‘Chinese wine’.
The problem here is that wine within China will never improve if this continues, and they could be subject to some lower quality, mass bulk wines that a lot of these countries are trying to ‘palm off’. This is already happening and I believe, is very unfair.
All countries are looking to increase their fine wine production and increase quality so like the partnerships noted above, let’s work together and have a balance of imports and locally grown wine. I think this is the best way forward for everyone economically and financially. But that’s just my opinion!
Grapes are grown all over China, but the main areas for wine production are:
- The Shandong Peninsula
- Fruity, dry reds
- Neutral, crisp and slightly flowery whites
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Local Chinese varieties
- Shandong Peninsula’s Chardonnay