Monday, February 18, 2013

Seriously, China?

When most wine enthusiasts think of wine-producing countries, places like France, Spain and Italy are likely the first to come to mind. However, China has a long-standing history with wine, dating back thousands of years and is considered one of the world's leading wine-producing countries.

In terms of sales, they rank fifth with 1.6 million tonnes of wine produced annually. Here we'll take a closer look at the Chinese wine industry, revealing how it became such a a powerful leader in this ever-expanding industry.
The truth is that no one knows exactly how far back the history of Chinese wine goes; although,
archeologists have discovered old wine cellars, beverage containers and other remains from grape-based Chinese wine dating back over 4,000 years ago. This is the oldest evidence discovered to date. These findings reinforced the theories of numerous historians that China has long been a wine-producing country.

History and Current Trends

As you can expect, a lot has changed in the Chinese wine industry since then. During the early years of China's wine production, they focused most of their efforts on making wine out of rice with a very minimal amount being grape-based. Rice was easier to grow and more readily available in China, which is why it was the preferred choice at the time. It wasn't until the the time of the Tang Dynasty when the country's wine popularity began to shift from rice to grape wine. People took notice of the quality difference between these two different types of wine, choosing the sweet and fruitful flavors of grape over rice-based wine.

In recent years, China's wine industry has exploded in terms of popularity and demand. Since 2006, the country is seeing a sizable growth of roughly 20% annually. While they may not seem like a lot, a 20% annual growth means the doubling of their wine bottle production in just 5 years, and that's impressive no matter how you look at it. China is also considered to be the leading country with the greatest amount of wine sales through auction.

The Red Wine Storage Culture

Much like France and Italy, red wine is preferred over white wine in China. According to some reports, China's vineyards produce roughly 80% red wine and 20% white wine, so there's definitely a noticeable difference. The overall culture in China places greater emphasis on red wine, considering it to be a status symbol and sign of wealth. As a result, it's not uncommon for some of the more wealthy Chinese citizens to spend hundreds of even thousands of dollars on a single bottle of premium red wine.

It's important to note that both red and white wine is traditionally served chilled in China. When served at a restaurant or dinner event, a small portion of the wine is poured into a small glass known as a baijiu. Everyone at the table toasts with their glasses before drinking the wine, and then another glass is poured. Of course some people will have their own ways of drinking wine, but this is the general method based on Chinese tradition.

About The Author:

Bill Sweat is a wine lover and avid wine writer, having previously written for many beverage blogs. Currently Bill writes for Wine Refrigerator Now, an online blog and store selling wine refrigerators. Come visit his blog to enjoy more of his writings!

Image Credits:
Bernt Rostad

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