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China's taste for red
Everyone knows that a Parisian instinctively reaches for a bottle of Merlot to quench his thirst and that French babies are weaned on the juice. But, astonishingly France is no longer the biggest consumer of red wine.
Last year, the Chinese overtook the French, guzzling almost 1.9 billion bottles of plonk and are now set to become the world’s leading winemakers, according to The Little Red Book published by Week in China.
“Xi Jinping’s campaign against free-spending officials has hit China’s fine wine salesmen hard, with purchases of expensive bottles all but drying up. But there’s a silver lining to the slowdown as millions more consumers choose to drink more affordable wine for the first time,” say the authors.
The boom in the best vintages is apparently subsiding, and the industry is now excited by the start of a new era for wine in China as drinkers opt for cheaper – and no doubt more hangover-inducing - brands.
And China’s much reported anxiety about food security and farmland scarcity seems to subside after a couple of glasses.
The Chinese have more than doubled the amount land devoted to the vine during the past 15 years and claim to have almost 11% of the global grape area, according to the International Organization of Vine and Wine.
But, like China’s GDP figures, these numbers are a bit misleading. A large portion of the country’s new vineyards hasn’t reached production and much of the harvest in the short-term is likely to end up as table grapes and raisins.
So that’s good news for international wine firms. Ganbei.
Photo: F Delventhal