A new study reveals that Chinese consumers drank more red wine than those in France and Italy last year, making China the world’s largest consumer of the drink.
The report, commissioned by Bordeaux-based wine industry conference Vinexpo and conducted by independent research firm International Wine & Spirit Research, states that China (including Hong Kong) consumed 155 million nine-liter cases (1.87 billion bottles) of red wine in 2013, marking a 136 percent increase from five years ago. The country has now surpassed France and Italy, who consumed 150 million and 141 million cases last year, respectively.
What’s more, most of China’s wine (83 percent) is produced within the country. In fact, the country is now the sixth-largest producer of wine in the world, according to the Wall Street Journal, with the provinces of Shandong and Ningxia becoming the primary locations of viticulture.
Red wine’s particular popularity among Chinese consumers is rooted in the drink’s cultural significance. Wine drinkers in China have long believed that red wine has health benefits, and the color red is traditionally viewed as lucky. The drink has also come to replace the “pungent, grain-based liquor” baijiu at Chinese business banquets.
Despite the growing taste for red wine, however, China’s per capita wine consumption is still relatively low. In 2013, China drank 1.5 liters per person, as opposed to France’s national average of 51.9 liters. The fixation on red wine specifically has also caused a slight drop (2 percent) in overall wine consumption. Sparkling wine, for instance, remains relatively unpopular; an older study by Vinexpo/IWSR reported that just 0.05 percent of wines consumed in China in 2011 were sparkling, as opposed to a 7 percent global average.
image credit: jean-françois chénier