Recent wine auctions in Hong Kong and the rapid escalation of individual wine consumption in the mainland market indicate what many in the wine industry have dreamed about for decades is starting to come true: wine is finally beginning to capture a wider audience in China. While per capita wine consumption remains miniscule, and consumption by volume is only a drop in the bucket compared to grape wine’s Chinese cousin, the feared native grain alcohol baijiu, wine producers from around the world clearly have the China market firmly in their crosshairs. As China’s middle class continues to expand, these wine producers believe they’ll finally have a chance to really catch on, not only in top-tier markets like Beijing and Shanghai, but also in emerging cities where consumers are less knowledgeable about wine but want to catch up to their more sophisticated east coast counterparts.
This week, Evan Osnos of The New Yorker posted a short video on the growing interest in grape wine in China, which includes a brief interview in which Don St. Pierre, Jr., chief executive of A.S.C. Fine Wines, explains some of the cultural dimensions to wine consumption in China: