Chinese wine market begins to normalise

Posted by Rachel England on 23 November 2015

China’s wine market is beginning to act like any other major wine market, according to analysts.

Speaking at ProWine Shanghai last week, Wine Intelligence CEO Richard Halstead said that China was becoming a more “normal” drinks market without the skewing influence of state-funded banqueting and a culture of fine wine gifting.

“The anticorruption policies put the brakes on ‘Wine 1.0’, but they have created conditions for ‘Wine 2.0’ to flourish,” he said.

“Before 2013, the start of the austerity drive, China was about arm’s length purchasing – it was anomalous purchasing behaviour, because the people buying wine were not the people drinking it, and the people receiving it may not have been drinking it either, wine was just being given as a gift; or there was ritualistic drinking around a banqueting suite, which is not a normal way of enjoying a glass of wine.”

But this is changing, he continued. “What we are now seeing is a market that is starting to appear like other markets: it is moving to a growing importance on personal consumption; so people are making decisions based on their own tastes, as opposed to buying for another person without much thought as to what it contains.”

He added that this was good news for the wine trade, noting that this trend has “levelled the playing field a bit”, but warned that the Chinese wine market “is just at the beginning of its journey”.

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