Wine Word: Consumer Brian Yao


By Jim Boyce

Wine consumer Brian Yao hails from southern China but has lived in Beijing for about 8 years and has worked in the IT/Telecom industry for about 20 years. He became interested in wine about 18 months ago and talked to me about his favorite events, and places to buy wine, among other topics. He will be one of the consumer judges in the upcoming Grape Wall of China Wine Challenge.

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How did you get interested in wine?

I used to drink some Chinese wines and did not know much about wine. About 18 months ago, I bought a Chilean wine being promoted in a supermarket. I found the wine was quite different from the wines I had before. I decided to go to Carrefour and I found a lot of interesting wines there. I also found basic information about wine, mostly via the Internet. The more I learned about wine, the more wine I tried, and the more fun I had.

The first wine tasting I attended was hosted by Top Cellar and featured some wines from Bordeaux. It was the first time I tried several wines at the same time.

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Where do you typically buy and drink wine? What kind of tastings do you go to?

I buy wines from Carrefour, Top Cellar, Palette Vino, Le Pinot, and other places. Sometimes I drink wine when I have a meal with friends. Since it’s not easy to find wine that pairs well with Chinese food, I also drink wine at home with cheese or some simple food.

I have attended some wine tastings in Beijing, most of them consumer-oriented. Some were hosted by retail shops and importers, such as ASC, French Wine Paradox, and Torres, and some were hosted by professional organizations, such as SOPEXA and The California Wine Institute.

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What types of wines do you like? Did you notice your tastes changing since you started drinking wine?

I like Bordeaux-style wines, especially from the Right Bank, and Napa-style wines. I used to like some Chilean wines and Australian wines, which are easy to drink. I find it interesting to try many different wines, especially from “old world” places such as France and Italy, although it is not easy to find ones with good prices in Beijing.

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What wines do your Chinese friends like?

My Chinese friends like imported wines. Most of my friends like dry red wines, while some female friends like wines that are a little sweet, such as white Zinfandel.

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What was your favorite wine event last year? How about your favorite wine tried last year?

There were so many wine events I liked. My favorite wine event of 2008 was the Grand Cru de Bordeaux tasting. And of the wines I tried in 2008, my favorite was Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel.

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What changes would you, as a consumer, like to see in the wine market here in Beijing?

I would like to see more drinkable local wines in the Beijing market as well as more affordable wines from Italy, Spain and Australia.

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