By Jim Boyce | A photo circulating on social media reminded me of the challenges that wine consumers face in China. Along with issues such as counterfeit wine, high prices for quality local labels, and stocking decisions made by importers / distributors who often seem a step behind buyer tastes, there are those of transportation and storage.
A top wine shipped from Sonoma or Sydney would not be so fine if it arrived in China via a ship container over-heated daily by a blazing sun. Nor would it be ideal if those who display the wine decide the best place is a sunny storeroom window. Nor, well, I could go on but this photo gives you a vivid visual example of a transportation issue:
Yes, wine can easily freeze during northern China’s harsh winters, as appears to be the case with this Domaine de la Romanée-Conti aka DRC that costs about USD15,500 / RMB100,000 per bottle. That pretty much qualifies as the worst “ice” wine. While I haven’t received any frozen wine here in Beijing, several have been delivered to my abode on the verge of turning to slush. (Admittedly, I have forgotten about the occasional bottle chilling in the freezer, with similar results as that DRC.)
On a positive note, I believe more wine China-based importers and distributors are careful with shipping and storage now than, say, a decade ago. And they have to be given an increasingly competitive market and increasingly knowledgeable consumers. Let’s hope whoever ordered that DRC has some backup bottles for Chinese New Year.
I first saw this photo on Yves Beck’s page.