Top 10 Wine Trends in Hong Kong
There is a burgeoning wine industry in Hong Kong where consumer demand is rising and tastes are changing, while high profile events and bloggers spread the emerging trends.
The wine industry in Hong Kong has come a long way since the dropping of import duties in 2008 and wine drinkers in the city are becoming more adventurous with the expanded wealth of wine options on offer.
The upsurge in wine pairing with Chinese food has opened new doors to experiences that local drinkers would not have otherwise explored. Also, the traditional wines usually consumed are being caught up by demand for new and more interesting varieties from differing wine producing countries around the world.
Take a peek at the top 10 trends currently making waves in the Hong Kong market.
1. HONG KONG WINES
Yes, Hong Kong is a wine producing country but not a grape growing country. Here, imported grapes from Bordeaux are being turned into top quality wines by The 8th Estate Winery and wines from grapes in the Rouge Valley, Oregon, are created by Portrait Winery and Distillery.
The novelty status the wines once held has worn off and decent wines are being produced and can now be found on local restaurant wine lists and shop shelves across the city. A newly arrived company called MY Wine is also promoting selfmade wine that they will help you to make and then cellar for you while it ferments.
Expect to see more locally made wines on dinner tables around the territory soon.
2. BORDEAUX BACK IN STYLE
Bordeaux has traditionally been the red wine of choice in Hong Kong and held the mantle of most popular wine here for decades; that was until December 2011 when Burgundy became the flavour of the town. However, top end Burgundy is fast falling out of favour with the recent arrest of alleged fraudster Rudy Kurniawan earlier this year.
Comments made by Laurent Ponsot of Domaine Ponsot have not helped the region as he noted that 80 percent of pre-1980 Burgundy wines sold at auction are fake.
Fortunately the rise in production of fake wines in mainland China has yet to affect the local Hong Kong market for Bordeaux and positive customer sentiment for these wines still stands strong.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA SALES
Hong Kong is a small city where social media networks are a part of day-to-day life. Recently wine lovers have begun buying and selling wine to each other through the social media network Facebook.
Avid lovers of back vintage wine put messages up in Facebook groups and share the purchase of wines that they only want one or two bottles of but that require a minimum order of one dozen.
The propensity for fraud is minimal as crime is low in Hong Kong and the fact that most local wine lovers know each other and see one another at the numerous tastings that happen daily around the city.
The Facebook wine sales phenomenon is set to get bigger and bigger in Hong Kong for sure.
4. WHITE WINE RISING
Red wine has always held the majority of market share in Hong Kong but the recent “revelation” that white wines actually pair better with Chinese food has seen an upsurge in the consumption of white wine.
Aromatic styles have seen the largest growth with Rieslings from New Zealand and Germany making the largest headway as their delicate flavours pair well with the diversity of the local cuisine.
Chablis has always fared well due to the popularity of full bodied wines but as people are becoming more aware of the importance of flavour and taste, the swing has been made towards lighter whites with unoaked Chardonnays leading in the Chardonnay category.
5. RESTAURANT WINE DECLINE
According to some wine distributors, around Hong Kong purchases of wine by restaurants has slowed down in recent months while private client sales have risen accordingly.
Hong Kong has always been a notoriously expensive country and the mark ups on wine do nothing to diminish this reputation. With the transparency of wine prices via the internet becoming more apparent, people in Hong Kong are shunning the overpriced wine on many local wine lists and going straight to the importers themselves.
There is no “Bring Your Own” culture here; in fact it’s actively discouraged. Also, due to extortionate corkage fees, people are choosing not to drink wine in restaurants. They either get the eating out of the way and then enjoy a bottle of wine with friends in a members club (where the wine prices are subsidised by membership fees) or just drink their wine at home.
6. KEEN ON ITALIAN
The popularity of Italian wine is ever increasing in Hong Kong with the easy availability of back vintages and the growing interest in wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco.
With the abundance of five star hotels in the city, many of which have Italian restaurants attached to them, there is a growing demand for wines that match that style of food. Recent auctions here by Ornellaia, Michele Chiarlo and Italian auction house Gelardini and Romani has sparked local interest in the wines.
Essentially Italian wines are considered a safer buy and are much more affordable than their counterparts from Bordeaux and Burgundy as there is little to no speculation on the price of the wines.
There is also a growing culture of pairing Chinese food with Italian wines.
7. MASTERING WINE
Studying to be a Master of Wine takes a lot of time, hard work and money – the latter being something that is not in short supply in Hong Kong.
The success of locally dwelling Masters of Wine Debra Meiburg and Jeannie Cho Lee has fuelled popularity in taking the course and there are currently eight people studying for the qualification locally.
Two of these students will be sitting the examination this summer.
With an almost 200% year on year increase in enrolment in the WSET programme, Hong Kong people are looking for bigger and better qualifications to get ahead in this city where wine knowledge is seemingly more important than the actual consumption of the beverage. We wait with baited breath to see who will be the first Chinese person to complete and pass the MW exam.
8. EMERGING BLOGGERS
There has been a noticeable rise in blogging in the territory with people sharing their knowledge and experiences of wine online for others to read and learn from.
The ease of setting up personalised blog sites now means more and more people, even the less tech-savvy, are able to tell people about what’s going on within the wine culture of Hong Kong.
Bloggers are able to reach out to both locals and expatriates in multilingual formats with blogs such as Red Wine World, Winelist.hk, Wine Times Hong Kong, Tersina Wine Journal and The House of Fine Wine reaching more and more readers, not only locally but around the world, bringing wine communities closer and letting people on other continents know what’s happening in Hong Kong.
9. MORE WINE “APPS”
Hong Kong has long been a place where digital technology has been at the forefront of the way of life and this goes for wine too.
With the advent of the smart phone, the word “app” is well and truly a part of modern day language and wine apps are becoming more prevalent in local society. A supermarket released an app late last year which enables you to scan the bottle of wine on the shop shelf and have the wines info sent to your phone. The app also gives details of instore promotions and you can search for specific wines in a specific store.
Newly released app Wine2Go allows people to search a wine or spirit based on easy to understand attributes such as occasion, taste, origin, and price while also searching for the nearest convenient location to purchase said item. It also incorporates a membership programme that allows members to gain rewards and discounts on purchases.
For food and wine pairing there is also an app called Flavour Colours which highlights wine pairings with Chinese food, so when at a Chinese restaurant and at a loss of what wine to order with the food, the app makes it much easier for you to choose.
10. WINE EVENTS
Vinexpo Asia Pacific takes place this year in Hong Kong, with the annual Restaurant and Bar Show following in September; then Wine and Dine occurs in the first week of November before the annual Hong Kong Trade Development Council Wine & Spirits Fair rounds off the year’s programme.
Aside from these major events, wine dinners happen on a daily basis in Hong Kong with visiting winemakers in attendance and this trend looks set to increase as local wine importers strive to outdo each other.