Top 10 news of 2018 in China’s wine market

1. China launches its own wine rating system

In China’s most affirmative move yet to demonstrate its clout as a leading wine consumer, the country unveiled a new wine rating system designed to evaluate imported and domestically produced wines. Based on Chinese tastes it also shuns the usual set of established international wine rating systems such as the 100-point system favoured by international wine critics.

The system was officially introduced in November in Shanghai by China Alcoholic Drinks Association (CADA) – the country’s official regulatory and trade body for all alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits – China National Food Industry Association and the Chinese Society for Horticultural Science.

This seems to be in line with China’s overall more confident and assertive tone in the global stage, as the country’s clout grows in the fields of global politics, economics and culture. In the wine sector, it’s mirrored in its drive to produce ‘world-class’ Chinese wines, with state-backed wineries or supported projects, and is now launching ‘a wine rating system with Chinese characteristics’ targeting all wines sold in China.

According to the association, the system is said to cater to Chinese wine drinkers’ tastes and palates, with consideration of culinary traditions. Asked how it reflected Chinese drinking and dining traditions, Wang cited an example of tea drinking culture between China and the UK.

“In China, when you drink black tea, you drink it without addition of anything, while in the UK, to cater to their tastes, they often add other things,” Wang Zuming, secretary general of CADA’s wine division who’s in charge of formulating the wine rating, explained to dbHK.

The effects of this wine system are not expected to affect imported wines or domestic wine sales immediately, but a few years from now it might have larger influences, as Wang explained. By 2021, China is expected to become the world’s second biggest wine consumer following the US. A wine rating system with Chinese characteristics that cater to Chinese taste and preferences by then might fit better into a nationalist narrative in the country.

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