Wine Talk

Snooth User: jescobio

Chinese Wine? Interesting aticle.

Posted by jescobio, Jan 29, 2014.



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Reply by EMark, Jan 29, 2014.

Agree, that is pretty interesting.  Culture, of course, influences most human actions and I found this sentence most interesting:

Analysts say red is viewed as a lucky color in China, so it helps explain a preference for full-bodied reds over crisp white wines.

I'm not totally willing to accept that conclusion without proof, but it does not seem totally unreasonable.

The other interesting factoid comes towards the end:

Wine consumption in China has doubled twice over the past five years and is expected to double again by 2016 to 400 million cases, matching U.S. consumption levels.

You certainly cannot argue against historical data, and, while extrapolation always has risk, there is no reason to not make the prediction.

Reply by dvogler, Jan 30, 2014.

China drank over one billion bottles of wine because it's disinfected water...

That's not a large amount of wine per capita!  As for the wine, I admit I have had the "Great Wall" cabernet sauvignon and it's not bad.  However, I'm skeptical of anything from China that is consumable and won't be buying any.

They've already influenced Bordeaux prices and other wines will follow.  They pay at least double the normal price for Penfolds Grange.  Recently, a restaurant in Shanghai has been selling a BC wine (Painted Rock - Red Icon) for $900, and here it's $55 and not exactly plentiful.

I sincerely hope that buying North American wine doesn't become fashionable there or we're all in trouble!

Reply by outthere, Jan 30, 2014.

In trouble? The entrepreneur sees it as an opportunity! I'd better get going on my vineyard plans. D'oh, no water! ;)

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 31, 2014.

Uh... yeah, right.  Disinfected water.... OK.  The Chinese consume a LOT of wine, I don't think it is a water supply thing.  At any rate, they're buying up CA vineyards very quickly...   One i know of recently  is Hannah Nicole in Brentwood.  I am hearing there are many others, but they try to keep it quiet. They keep the original staff in place.   But winemaking practices are being changed to reflect a profit/distribute goal overall.  Artistic free range is gone for the winemakers....  So very, very sad.

Reply by dvogler, Jan 31, 2014.

Napagirl, what I meant by that, is that it's safer to drink than water.  A friend of mine was in Beijing (business) and he said they all drank wine and no water at dinner and after.  Much like when I go to Brazil, I drink beer (which at home I NEVER do) because it's cheaper than water and no risk of dysentery!

I think I'm going to learn Mandarin. 

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 31, 2014.

Dvogler, my sister spent 2mos in Beijing as a visiting artist ~3yrs ago.  I will have to ask her about the water... she never mentioned that.  the only thing she mentioned was the awful air pollution- she is a jogger, and couldn't jog- had to join a gym.  Her internet was also blocked from multiple sites, and she was instructed to only make art of a certain style.  She is not a big wine drinker, so I am not sure what she drank there.  She went back to Shanghai about a year ago and liked that better.

Reply by Sduquality Wines, Feb 1, 2014.

this was a nice article..

Reply by zufrieden, Feb 1, 2014.

I have not been back to China since a lengthy visit prior to the changes instituted by the once disgraced Deng Xiaoping (you can do the math).  The idea of a bustling wine industry such as currently exists in Hebei Province was nothing short of  apipe dream at the time of Mao's death in 1976.

And given the socio-political changes in the intervening period I feel very little inclination to return to reprise my trip.

Try as I might,  I could find only fiery hard liquor or watery local beer at the time - regardless of whether I was in the vicinity of the Buddhist temple in Sian or on the esplanade of Shanghai of the day.  There actually were some grapes of European provenance growing in certain locations, but none passed my lips during my stay.  The thirsty foreign students were even more desparate - wanting me to purchase even the undrinkable fire water.  Disconsolate they were, as a group.

And imported wine was nearly impossible to find.

Surprisingly to some of you, however, I could breath the air quite nicely.  Is there is a lesson here, I wonder - considering that air in London circa 1900 was pretty much unbreathable by today's standands?

In any event, try that bottle of Great Wall and see what you think.  Such wine is representative of juice the average person can obtain elsewhere in the world; other more interesting wines are very difficult to obtain and may not be worthwhile discussing here.


Reply by dmcker, Apr 21, 2014.

"I have not been back to China since a lengthy visit prior to the changes instituted by the once disgraced Deng Xiaoping (you can do the math).  The idea of a bustling wine industry such as currently exists in Hebei Province was nothing short of  a pipe dream at the time of Mao's death in 1976."

(Disclaimer here: I couldn't read the OP's article, since the link is now dead.)

Historical reference (both socio-political and personal) understood and appreciated, Zuf. However the second sentence really needs some clarification. What is your definition of 'bustling'? Just selling something in the short term? Or making something that not only sells but is a) decent in quality, and b) safe to drink? 

First a digression. California's water crisis is currently bringing to the fore issues about safety of recycled water in the vineyards. To whit, from Lewis Purdue last week:

  • Scientists at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and their Geneva Experiment station told Wine Industry Insight that they are unaware of any published studies done on the uptake of CECs by grapevines irrigated by recycled wastewater. However, there are studies confirming that a number of food plants do take up CECs from recycled wastewater irrigation.
  • But nothing on grapevines. Which means that every winery selling wine from a vineyard irrigated with recycled wastewater has no solid facts to assure its customers that their wine is not contaminated.

Purdue queried both UC Davis and Cornell, but only Cornell responded to him. Even though we're talking about China I'm including the US perpective because several participants on these boards are physically and sometimes professionally close to what's going on in California, and I thought this might be an interesting stepping stone towards something far, far more serious over in Asia--systemically endemic and massive in scale. Checks and balances in one place, rampant excess in the other. So here goes...

First a link to an article that's been making the rounds in the past week or so on how China says one fifth (and you know they're being very conservative both regarding overall percentages and definitions of what is 'polluted') of its farmland is polluted. We have to assume the land in Hebei is not healthy.

Second, an infographic on airpollution levels in East Asia. On the map green values are 'good', yellow is 'moderate', orange is 'unhealthy for sensitive groups', red is 'unhealthy', purplish blue is 'very unhealthy', and that brownish-burgundy/maroon is 'hazardous'.

To put it mildly, China's industrialization has its downside--both for the country's citizens, and its neighbors. Can't help but wonder if this level of pollution were coming up from Mexico how the US would react.

Thirdly, some nice photographs. First the capital of Hebei province, then Beijing (which Hebei wraps around) then some of the rest of China (Changsha in Hunan; Wuhan--kindof the oldskool Pittsburgh of China, though on steroids, lots of steroids; Shanghai)

Hebei's capital:



Other areas of China:



So Hebei winemakers have to deal with pollution in the ground and from the air--lots of pollution. And consumers have to deal with the results. BTW, a new term has come into play quite recently: mustard sky. Happens regularly over there. Pretty sunsets in a post-apocalyptic way, but not exactly the same as those during a Santa Ana in SoCal....


Pollution there has been only getting worse, year after year. For further reading from a year ago:

The Atllantic

Within the past few weeks, riots of some scale against pollution from plants have been reported on Weibo (like Twitter).  Not the first time for such protests. Harbor and airport shutdowns are also hardly unique events, with visibility sometimes below 10 meters. 

I'll stop here. Back to some good wine from safe and healthy earth!

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 22, 2014.

Great concerns to bring up Dave, will make me think twice about sampling any, ever.

Reply by dmcker, Apr 23, 2014.

Yeah, looks like I scared everyone else off, too. Was hoping to generate some discussion on the (two or more) subject(s) addressed in my post....

Reply by EMark, Apr 23, 2014.

Y'know, DM, I kinda blew past this when you first posted, but I just went back and read it a bit more carefully.  It is frightening.  I'm not too worried about my consumption of Chinese agricultural products--including wine--but the idea that wastewater irrigation of products that I may consume may be contaminated is a tad alarming.  On the other hand, at my age I'm going to die long before most of the participants here.  So, I'm guessing that I'll miss the worst.

Reply by tradewater, Apr 25, 2014.

Wow!    Frightening...and so very sad.

Now I must worry about my wine as well as virtually every other aspect of this crazy, dystopian life.  And this, after I had firmly convinced myself that wine was the answer to all the world's problems....     :-)

One can imagine future tasting notes. "...a lovely nose, reminiscent of early-morning waste-treatment plant..."     

Reply by JenniferT, Apr 25, 2014.

Great post, Dave. Really informative. Really shocking to see the distribution of pollution/particulate matter. And I hadn't been aware of vineyard water recycling issues. Come to think of it, I don't know much about vineyard irrigation or water management at lots to think about! 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 25, 2014.

A lot your garlic comes from China.  Read packaging or ask the grocer.  Ditto other "perishables." 

A friend of mine is a pretty well known writer.  (Actually, a few of my friends fit that, but this one in particular...)  He used to write for the NY Times and is good friends with one of their writers in China who was banished from the country last year for writing about pollution and food safety issues there.  The whole matter was complicated because his wife is Chinese (he was there a long time, speaks the language) and they have a child; China is playing hardball about her leaving, as I understand it.  He continues to cover the country, but has to do so from another Asian capital using stringers and sources.  China has zero interest in confronting the issue--it's politically as backwards as ever (okay, they nominally did away with re-education camps) but now it's a crony capitalist heaven.  Anything that gets in the way of the economic expansion won't be tolerated, but don't expect socialism except of the pollution and then to those who can't get away from it. 

We may think we are outsourcing our pollution and that we are spared by an ocean, but no such luck. You can regulate mercury in your own factories, but when it comes from China, you have no recourse. All that work to get lead out of gasoline, mercury out of smokestacks, coal dust out of our air?  Forget it. Sure, if that was Mexico (actually, Mexico City was pretty bad, too) we'd pay more attention, but this IS our problem.

Plain and simple, the only way to confront it is to refuse when at all possible to buy products from countries with abysmal environmental standards, China first among them.  Spend a few extra bucks when necessary, drive less, own less, or drinker cheaper wine to make up the difference, but don't just look for the cheapest price on what you buy--pay attention to where things are made.  Pass on the Prada loafers (many of their shoes are made in China) and go for the Ecco shoes, made in Europe, or the Joseph Seibels.  If that Ralph Lauren suit says "Made in China," go for the Arthur Brant from Canada.  That yellow air does not stop at the borders or disappear completely over the ocean.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 25, 2014.

Emark, we won't let you go first.  (And you aren't that old.)  When the rest of you gives out, we're putting your head on life support and pouring wine between your lips every night.

Reply by EMark, Apr 26, 2014.

That's pretty funny.  Thanks, I guess.

Not the garlic part.  I did not know that.  Garlic is my #1 (solid) food group to the somewhat dismay of Mrs. EMark whose #1 food group is, I'm pretty sure, chocolate. 

Reply by dmcker, May 27, 2014.

OK, sit up and listen, China's getting serious about air pollution!  They announced yesterday that somehow-somewhere-sometime they'd take their oldest (and most polluting) 5million vehicles off the road. Knowing China and the Chinese and what those vehicles mean to their owners, that would be a Chinese firedrill, or at least like herding cats, to put into practice. Would love to be a (fast-forward telescoped) fly on the wall to watch how it unfolds. Oh, did I forget to mention there are at least 240million *registered* vehicles on the road there? No mention of the other 235mil, nor even the teeniest little reference to industrial plants.


From an AP-sourced article today:

"The order comes after China failed to meet official pollution-reduction goals for 2011-2013, the statement said. It said vehicles registered before 2005 that fail to meet cleaner emissions standards will be "phased out," though it did not say how.

"It called the country's environmental situation "extremely grim."

"China's major cities are smothered in eye-searing smog. The country has some of the world's strictest emissions standards, but authorities have refrained from enforcing them until now to avoid forcing older, pollution-belching trucks off the road and hurting small businesses."


And just so we'll have another fine graphic to ponder, here's a photo from Beijing. No, it's not offloading from a car-carrier transport ship at a local port. It's a major thoroughfare in the capital experiencing just a wee bit of traffic...

Reply by JonDerry, May 27, 2014.

That's an amazing picture...imagine having to try and get over a few lanes.

Addressing the worst 2% or so of the vehicles on the road sounds like great progress in doing next to nothing. When they finally start getting concerned, I fear we might be in too deep.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2014.

Was kindof expecting to hear more from people who'd traveled to/worked in China...


And as a further segue away from wine, for those people who think about parallels between now and the 1920s/30s in East Asia while sipping a glass or two, here's an interesting article out of Oz via the Huffington Post. 

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