The Chinese Wine Industry Firsthand
We spoke with Douglas Lodge who took a recent business trip to China and had the privilege of touring their wineries. In his own words:
Back in 1994, I visited a winery near Beijing. After lunch, the chef wished to drink a toast to his distinguished guests so he and I saluted each other with some crystal clear Chinese wine. I’d made the incorrect assumption that Chinese wine was much like all other wines, but when I took a sip, my god did I get a shock. The stuff burned all the way to the bottom of my feet. It was like the moonshine whiskey I drank as a teenager in Texas. Although they referred to it as “wine”, it was more like brandy, and was 56% alcohol.
But my recent trip in 2005 revealed many changes in Beijing. China now has five or six State-Private financed wineries ginning out French-style wines left and right. I was in China to sell a product (a mineral) obtained from central Utah and certified for organic usage, that has potential for the Chinese wine industry. According to experts, China’s wines suffer from too much acid and too few flavor molecules, all things that must be corrected in order to induce people to buy it. Consultants have suggested that the Chinese try all kinds of measures, including boosting the mineral content of the vineyard soils to improve their wines. I am happy to oblige because my product has proven itself in other venues requiring similar soil treatments. We’ll see how they fare with it in months to come.
Regardless of its drawbacks, Chinese wine is now leagues better than 10 years ago. China has real potential to be a major player in world wine markets once they’ve cultivated the right kind of soil to produce varietals as flavorful as its competitors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chinese wines alongside your favorite Merlot at the neighborhood liquor store within the next decade, but for now it's only available in New York and San Francisco as far as I know.
- Douglas Lodge