Visiting China three times in the past 18 months brought home the reality of doing wine business there. While everybody is talking up the potential of China, it would appear that should be more of a long term strategy than short term plan for NZ producers. The current wine consumption patterns in China are distinctly very different to the western world.
There are 3 main areas -
1. Wine for gift giving - tricky for many new world producers as the screw capped bottle is not seen as a premium product and therefore not something to impress with as a gift. Impressing is a very important part of the Chinese culture.
2. For Gan-bei (empty your glass) drinking/toasting - this often occurs around large banquet tables where everybody keeps drinking and toasting to prosperity, virility or whatever. Quality is not important but deep red colour and French label is.
3. Karaoke Hotels and clubs - where a lot of corporate hosting/entertaining is conducted again think French and big reds.
The concept of food and wine together is still not prevalent in China. There is little interest in white wine, very limited understanding and appreciation of lighter reds such as Pinot Noir and NZ wine in general and an unfailing worship of anything French. Couple all that with a general disdain for the screwcap and you can see it is going to be a hard row for quite some time for New Zealand wine producers.
Footnote just as I write this, I see an email pop up from Samantha , inviting me to participate in the Shanghai Winexpo!