Posted in Asia, Bangkok, Beer & Spirits, Health, News & Trends, Singapore, Tasting, Wine

How To Choose Good Bottle Of Wine For Special Occasions

Wine can make a great gift on many different occasions because it can be used to celebrate so many different things. When invited to someone’s home you can bring wine to go with a meal. Wine can commemorate weddings, births, graduations, and anniversaries of many kinds. It is a very appropriate professional gift, particularly if you are choosing a luxury wine.

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Posted in Asia, Bangkok, Beer & Spirits, Health, News & Trends, Singapore, Tasting, Wine

Deciphering the Chinese Wine Market |Cellar.Asia

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Following along with the rising standards of living and lifestyle changes, China’s demand for grape wine has been steadily increasing to the point that it is now the world’s fifth-largest consumer. And China’s regular wine drinkers are no longer limited to the middle and upper classes, either.

Recently an increasing number of younger Chinese have started to drink wine, as well as more of the middle-aged and elderly population who have adopted the habit for its health benefits. Even at formal occasions that require alcoholic beverages, such as banquets and business events, the Chinese are now more inclined to choose grape wine than ever before.

Why do the Chinese like wine?

Deciphering the Chinese Wine Market

According to a 2019 study by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which surveyed 2,400 wine consumers aged 20-60 across 10 major cities in mainland China, most people bought wine for use in non-social situations, for health considerations, and for its beautifying properties.

Red wine possesses the color and luster of rubies, which makes it especially suitable for major ceremonies and entertaining guests in China due to the deep cultural significance of the color; red has been considered a representation of good fortune, power, and wealth throughout China’s history. The demand for rosé wines in China is also influenced by their pink color, seeing as it has become favored by many women. 

Over the past few years, the structure behind Chinese wine consumption has experienced great change. Previously in China, and especially in the relatively cold northern regions, regular wine consumption was limited to males. But today, women may also be found drinking a glass or two at celebrations and parties. With the westernization of many aspects of the metropolitan Chinese lifestyle, the traditional baijiu (white spirits) is no longer embraced to the extent it once was.

The significance of the color red

The Chinese people’s love of wine does not come solely from its flavor, nor is it due only to its health benefits (grape wine is considered to have greater health benefits than cereal wines); more important are reasons of society and culture, as the Chinese see their ideals of wealth and good fortune reflected in the rich and vibrant red coloring of grape wine.

A brief history of the rise of wine in China

In the 1990’s, as China pursued a positive GDP growth rate and increases in household wealth, wine consumption habits developed rapidly. In 1996, Premier Li Peng toasted Congress with a glass of red wine, speaking to its health benefits as compared to the spicier and hotter baijiu. After this, wine began to flourish in China, with increased consumption especially noticeable in groups of greater wealth and higher education. To meet these larger market demands, stores carrying varieties of wine began appearing in every major city.

Since entering the 21st century, wine consumption from the traditional major global markets has maintained its former levels, while consumption in the Chinese market alone has skyrocketed. This has left wine producers across the world scrambling to keep up; one French newspaper even described China’s increased demand in recent years as “stupefying.” 

The current state of the wine market in China

Deciphering the Chinese Wine Market

Although only 3% of its population currently drinks wine, China has already become the world’s fifth-largest market. Worldwide production in 2018 was 29.2 billion liters, with sales of 24.3 billion liters. Among the countries with the highest sales, China took the fifth spot with 1.79 billion liters to become one of the fastest-growing markets. 

“If China reaches an average of just 3 liters per capita, it will have become the world’s largest market.”

According to statistics from the International Organization of Vine and Wine, China’s average yearly wine consumption in 2016 was 1.24 liters per capita, which was less than half of the worldwide average of 3.35 liters. If China reaches an average of just 3 liters per capita, it will have become the world’s largest market.

China’s wine imports have been rapidly increasing

In 2018, China’s wine imports reached 796.8 million liters. Although this is a slight drop from 2017 levels, it still represents an approximately 80% increase when compared to 2013 levels. Around 20% of China’s imported wine is bulk wine, while the remaining is bottled. In 2018, Chinese imports reached USD 3.91 billion, a 6.5% increase from 2017.

China Wine Imports, in Value

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China Wine Imports, in Quantity

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In 2005, four years after China had entered the World Trade Organization, wine really started to gain a foothold in the country. In the beginning, the primary imports were Bordeaux wines, along with smaller amounts from the Burgundy, Rhone, and Champagne regions in France as well as famous Italian wines.

In February 2008, the Hong Kong government made imported wine tariff-free, and as a result, imports increased by over 80% for the year. A large portion of this wine was ultimately distributed to the mainland. 

According to statistics from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Hong Kong wine exports in 2018 were valued at USD 439 million, with 84.4% headed to mainland China. Taking last year’s total wine imports of HKD 12 billion (USD 1.5 billion), this means that approximately 1/3 of the wine transported to Hong Kong that year was ultimately sold to mainland China.

Where are China’s imports coming from?

France remains China’s largest source of wine imports, and in 2018 the value of French wine imports in China was around USD 1 billion, but this still represented a year-over-year decrease of nearly 9%. China’s second-largest import source in 2018 was Australia, with a value of USD 700 million representing a 3.5% decrease from the previous year. Chile was the third-largest import source, with total imports valuing USD 340 million for a 4.5% increase.

Top 3 wine source countries in the Chinese market

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The advantages given to imported wine have become even more remarkable in recent years, with additional tariff changes. In 2012, New Zealand became the first country to enjoy tariff-free wine exports to China; in 2015 this was extended to Chile, in 2018 Georgia was added to the list, and as of 2019 Australia is included as well. 

According to China customs data, during the period from 2011 to 2017, both the cost and quantity of Chinese wine imports increased by close to 12% each year. According to reports, Moldova is expected to become the fifth tariff-free country.

There has been great difficulty in increasing both the quantity and quality of domestic wine production in China, due to excessive winemaking costs as compared to many other countries, and as a result, China’s import market for wine has seemed insatiable. Not only has there been strong Chinese demand for cheaper wines in the low end of the market, but also higher-end wines from private brands that draw consumers with their status and packaging. With this range, overall profits in the import market are maximized.

2018 imports take a step back due to external factors

In 2018, due to the pressures of a falling economy and the influence of the US-China trade war, the rate of imports and consumption slowed. China customs data show that 2018 was the first year-over-year decline for Chinese wine imports since 2014, with an import quantity of 675 million liters representing an 8.95% decrease. 

Wine imports in Hong Kong have slowed to match. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council stated that last year, the total amount of wine exports dropped 22.5%, with calculations on values showing an even more dramatic decrease of 64% through the first half of 2019.

Thankfully, the value of the wine import market is clearly still on the rise, in 2018 reaching USD 2.82 billion for a 1.1% increase. This can be described as a “drop in volume, increase in price” phenomenon, and as long as China’s demand for wine remains high and growing higher, the import market will surely follow in its footsteps.

Chinese wine drinking habits are changing

Chinese wine drinking habits are changing

With the emergence of individual consumption, societal usage of wine in China has shifted from business banquets to dinner at home, gradually becoming a part of people’s everyday lives. 

In a 2017 survey of wine consumers in mainland China, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council uncovered the surprising finding that a majority of respondents enjoy drinking wine at home. In fact, 74% of those surveyed said that they drink wine alone in their homes, while the next highest selections were at gatherings with friends (66%), dining out alone or with family (58%), formal banquets (54%), and business events (52%).

Situations where Respondents Drink Wine

At Home 77%
Social Gatherings with Friends 66%
Dining Out (alone or with family) 58%
Formal Banquets 54%
Business Events 52%

Results also showed that 77% of the population drank wine for reasons related to its health benefits, while 53% chose it because they enjoyed the taste. Either way, the number of Chinese wine drinkers is increasing, and they are purchasing wine for their own enjoyment rather than to be given as a gift or stored as part of a collection. This is how wine has entered into the daily lives of the Chinese.

Primary Reasons that Respondents Drink Red Wine

REASON PROPORTION OF RESPONDENTS
Health 77%
Taste 53%
Societal demands 51%
Reflection on quality of life 48%
Beautifying properties 45%
It’s a popular trend 26%

Additionally, the survey data showed that 47% of respondents purchased wine within the 101 to 200 yuan (USD 14.50~28.50) price range, and as a whole, the sample leaned toward middle and lower-range wines; the average consumer price of wine purchased for personal use averaged 193.6 yuan (~USD 27.50) per bottle. This data is evidence that as family incomes in China have risen, average consumer spending on wine has increased as well.

Another interesting result from the survey was that large bottles are not necessarily the leading bottling method in the China market. According to the study, 73% of respondents prefer smaller volumes of wine (such as 375 mL), and this was especially true of the female respondents, whose proportion was even higher (80%). Over the past few years, the “beautifying” effects of drinking wine before bed have gone “viral” through millions of fans on social media, causing smaller bottles of wine to become even more popular.

China’s online wine marketplace takes off

Although mainland China’s retail market is still dominated by brick-and-mortar stores like supermarkets and specialty shops, online retail now accounts for 22.1% of the country’s total wine sales and therefore cannot be overlooked. Some online marketplaces have stated that this year’s wine sales have more than doubled, with wines costing less than 200 yuan (~USD 28.50) making up 70% of sales and wines costing between 200 and 499 yuan (USD 28.50~71.00) making up another 15%.

Great potential remains for future growth in the China market

Over the past two years, the prices of wines sold in China have trended upward, and therefore promotions have been emphasizing wines in the 200 to 499 yuan (USD 28.50~71.00) range. China’s youth like to enjoy life, and they aren’t afraid to spend a little bit of money to achieve that enjoyment. Therefore, there remains great potential for further development in supplying this particular demographic with high-level wines. 

According to Ctrip’s Food Forest survey data from last year, over 50% of those aged 25-35 would use wine as their first choice in a communal dinner-type situation; further narrowing this range to include only those aged 30-35, the proportion was closer to 70%. This is more evidence that while China has already become a huge market for wine, it has even greater potential for future growth.

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Posted in Asia, Bangkok, Beer & Spirits, Health, News & Trends, Singapore, Tasting, Wine

Blind Tasting Tip: The Japanese Furoshiki Wrapping Method

Whether you need an easier and more eco-friendly way to wrap bottles for holiday gifts, or a more elegant and presentable way to hide bottles for blind tasting, the Japanese Furoshiki method is the perfect alternative.

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Posted in Asia, Bangkok, Beer & Spirits, Health, News & Trends, Singapore, Tasting, Wine

How To Pick The Perfect Wine Gift For Anyone

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Let’s face it, giving the perfect gift during the holidays is tough. You want to make sure the person receiving the gift will enjoy it, and you also want to enjoy giving it. Our solution: give wine. If you’re lucky, you may even get to partake in the consumption. Even better, this blog How To Pick The Perfect Wine Gift helps you pick the perfect bottles for everyone on your list.

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Posted in Asia, Bangkok, Beer & Spirits, Health, News & Trends, Singapore, Tasting, Wine

Gifting Wine: Choosing the Right Wine for Someone Else

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Wine can make a great gift on many different occasions because it can be used to celebrate so many different things. When invited to someone’s home you can bring wine to go with a meal. Wine can commemorate weddings, births, graduations, and anniversaries of many kinds. It is a very appropriate professional gift, particularly if you are choosing a luxury wine.

But how do you know what to choose for someone else? What type of wine someone likes is a very personal choice, and it can be hard to know what to buy for another person. Here are some ideas that will help you select the right wine for any gift occasion.

Going to Someone’s Home

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If you are choosing a wine to bring when you are a guest in someone’s home, it’s best to either bring something you already know they like, or something that will pair well with what they are serving. If you have known this person for some time, you probably have an idea of what they like to drink (red or white, sparkling or still, region of the world, etc.). People often make the mistake of trying to find “a really great bottle” to give as a gift, when they already know what their friend likes to drink. Just get them what they like. It shows you remembered their preferences and chose it specially for them.

If you have an idea of what food they are serving, ask the wine store salesperson to help you select a bottle that will pair well. Champagnes and sparkling wines go well with appetizers, chilled whites are great for drinking outside in the summer with lighter meals, and reds pair best with heavier meat dishes.

For a Special Occasion Gift

Gifting Wine: Choosing the Right Wine for Someone Else

Wines are a perfect choice to celebrate a special occasion, particularly weddings, birth, and graduations. Anything that marks a rite of passage in life.

Weddings

Champagne is a classic choice to celebrate a wedding. Normally, Champagne is a blend of wines made in different years, but for a wedding consider a vintage Champagne which is made using only wine from the year on the label. It could be from the year the couple met, it could be a Champagne that will need to age until their 5th or 10th wedding anniversary, it could be one that’s already aged and will be ready to open on their honeymoon. Give them something that commemorates this special occasion.

Birthdays

If you are looking for a gift to celebrate the birth of a child, try giving them a wine made the year they were born. This is a special gift because it is personal, and like people, wines continue to evolve and mature through their lifetime.

If the wine is for a child/parents of a child, choose something that has a long ageing process and will be ready to drink when the child is older. A Bordeaux or a vintage Port are traditional choices for these types of gifts, though some Burgundy wines are also suitable. These are wines that can age 10, 15, or 20 years, and can be saved for a future special occasion such as a milestone birthday or university graduation.

Graduations

For graduations, similar to weddings, you can choose to buy a wine that is ready to drink immediately or one that will be ready for a later anniversary of the event. It could be a wine made the year the graduate started university and which is ready when they graduate. Or perhaps a wine that won’t be ready for another 5 years, just in time to celebrate perhaps getting married or getting a new job.

Wine as a Professional Gift

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Wine is also a perfect gift to give in a professional setting, whether it is a premium bottle given to an important client or contact, or as a simpler token of respect to a colleague or employee.

For someone important

For premium wines, ask a wine salesperson for advice. Choose something with a recognizable name, perhaps something that is rare or difficult to acquire where your contact lives – French and Italian wines generally have the highest status. Many of these wines require time to age, so decide if you want to buy one that is ready to open immediately or will need more time.

Another option, if you are giving a gift to a wine connoisseur, is to offer one of your best local wines. Even if it is not as well known as premium brands, a wine connoisseur will always appreciate trying something new. In this case though, choose a wine that is recognized as being one of the very best wines your country or region produces.

For a colleague

For a colleague, do not overdo it. A well-made bottle of a versatile wine, something that is easy to drink with or without food, is better than getting something very unique that this person may not like.

Remember, whenever you are gifting wine, the important thing is to make it personal. Give the recipient something that relates to special dates in their life, something appropriate for the event they have planned, or something that reflects their status. Every gift should be about the person it’s being given to, and wine is no exception.

Whether you are new to wine drinking or looking for wine tasting Bangkok, there are a few things you need to consider. Contact Information for, and services offered by Cellar.Asia.

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10 Tips on Serving and Enjoying Wine in Tropical Countries

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Living in a tropical climate poses some particular problems to wine consumers. The high heat and intense humidity levels in tropical countries are not conducive to bringing out the best in your favorite wines. Red wines may feel overwhelmingly heavy, while whites and roses seem bland and boring, when the temperature is too hot.

So how can you make sure that, whether at home or in a restaurant, your wine is at the right temperature and at its most enjoyable throughout the whole experience? The following list will help you to make the most of every bottle.

1. Make sure the wine has been properly stored

To enjoy your wine it must be in good condition, this is rule number one. One of the most important keys to enjoying your wine is to make sure it has been protected from heat, excess humidity, movement, and temperature variation. Ideally it should be stored in a dedicated cellar which maintains a constant temperature of around 13 ℃ and a humidity of about 60%.

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2. Serve wine at the appropriate temperature

To fully appreciate your wine, even in the heat, make sure you serve it at the proper temperature. Sparkling wines and lighter white wines should be well chilled, between 6-10 ℃, while fuller white wines can be a bit warmer, between 10-14 ℃. Red wines are ideally served around 16-18 ℃.

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3. Cool your glassware

Such a simple thing, yet we often forget it. It’s a hot summer day, you’ve perfectly chilled a refreshing bottle of wine, you pour it into a room temperature glass, and instantly your wine starts to lose its chill. Run some cool water over your glass, or put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes so that it will be the same temperature as your wine.

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4. Chill your red wine

Now, we all know that red wine is supposed to be served at room temperature, but remember that rule was invented in Europe, not the tropics, before the days of central heating or global warming. Room temperature was significantly colder at that time. Red wine, especially lighter bodied reds, can be very refreshing with just a little chill on them.

Chill your red wine

5. Keep your bottle out of direct sunlight

Try your best to keep the bottle out of the sun. If you are dining outdoors, leave the bottle in the house, and if you are at a restaurant and you don’t have an icebucket, ask the staff to keep your bottle inside, perhaps in a cooler, until you are ready for another glass.

10 Tips on Serving and Enjoying Wine in Tropical Countries

6. Maintain the bottle temperature

As mentioned before, an icebucket is one way to keep your bottle cool. It should be about half full of a mixture of ice and water, which cools faster than ice alone. For home use, you can find vacuum-insulated wine bottle coolers that fit a single bottle and keep it cool without ice. They also take up much less space than an icebucket. And if all else fails, wet a clean kitchen towel with cold water and wrap it tightly around the bottle. This will help keep the bottle cooler.

Maintain the bottle temperature

7. Use chilling rocks

Whiskey drinkers may be ahead of the wine world on this one. For those who don’t want their beverages watered down by melting ice, you can buy a set of whiskey stones, easily available online. Some are made from stainless steel and some are made from real stone, but either one can be popped into the freezer for a short time and then added to your glass of wine to help maintain the temperature without diluting the drink.

Use chilling rocks

8. Freeze your wine

Another method of keeping your glass cold without diluting the wine? Freeze some of the wine and add the cubes to your glass. This does require some planning ahead, but it will keep your wine refreshing without watering it down. I don’t recommend this method for reds, heavy whites, or any very expensive wine, but it’s quite effective for roses and simple light white wines.

Freeze your wine

9. Avoid high alcohol wines in extremely hot weather

Heavy red wines just aren’t at their best in very hot weather. They are not refreshing, and the high alcohol content can dehydrate you faster, which will make it seem even heavier than it already is. There are gorgeous big reds out there, but to properly enjoy them, consider saving them for cooler weather.

Avoid high alcohol wines in extremely hot weather

10. Always serve water with wine

This may seem like a strange tip when this article is focused on wine, but for maximum enjoyment in hot weather, make sure to drink water alongside your wine. Being dehydrated will not help you enjoy the wine and could actually make you sick.

Always serve water with wine

There you have it – 10 ways to maximize your enjoyment of wine in tropical countries. Using these tips will keep your wine refreshing and allow you to appreciate each bottle at its very best. And remember, stay hydrated!

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