Looking For Chinese Wine.

China. You gotta love this place. The people so industrious yet get out into the countryside and you can see the classic images that have graced the pages of National Geographic and the airwaves of the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel. Hanging in southwest China we are living the subtropical climate. With it comes the humidity, the tropical plants, flora and fauna. But one thing is for sure. This is not a climate conducive to growing grapes and therefore making wine.

Not that I haven't searched for wine. Great or otherwise. As a traveler, explorer and wanderer I typically search out local or indigenous experiences. Whether this is food, culture or whatever you might call “living life”. So finding a good bottle of wine has been a challenge. Not to mention a decent glass or “stem” as I am fond of referring to those glass or crystal vessels designed to host the juice of the fermented grape. Found wine. Haven't found a stem.

Chinese wine bottles shot in Yangshou China by Allan KarlAnd wouldn't you know it. The two easiest to find bottles of wine are from producers aptly named “Dynasty” and “Great Wall”.The wines come in the standard sizes, shapes and flavors. The cabernet from Great Wall seems to be the best I've tasted to date. Vintage? 1999. But it's important to note that the grapes from these wines are about as indigenous as the Madagasscar Palms gracing the grand entrance to Fashion Island in Newport Beach are to California.

Depending on the year, the weather and the political climate in Bejing, the grapes for Dynasty, Great Wall or any other Chinese wine come from France, South America or Australia. As far as I can tell, it's never consistent. It's just wine. Throw a label on it and sell it.

So it stands to reason that when I ran across this article today it dawned on me that the Chinese DO have an appetite for wine. And that's why imports of wine into China increased at a healthy rate of more than 50% last year from the previous year.

[…] according to figures released by the Beijing customs authorities, with a value amounting to almost o26 million, an increase which is being attributed to lower import tariffs and increasingly westernized consumer tastes …]

It's interesting to note that the majority of the wines imported by China are from Chile. According to AP-Foodtechnology.com France, Australia, the US, Argentina, Italy and Spain follow in that order.

While I didn't actually see too many Chinese locals imbibing in the greatest and perhaps oldest fermented beverage on the planet, according to the previously mentioned website, “wine is gaining popularity among China[base ']s increasingly affluent consumers, particularly red wine, although many people drink it on-the-rocks or served with mixers such as cola.” No there you go. I know two people in the USA that prefer not to drink it straight up enjoying it on the rocks. My dad and my good friend Paul Hunter. But somehow both of these folks would probably never step into China. Shame. Seems they might have something in common after all.

Hanging in Guilin. More on this legendary town later.

Photo: (1) Does this one need any explanation. Which Dynasty? Tong? Which Great Wall? The only one. The wine? Juice is likely Chilean or Australian. But when in Rome….