By Jim Boyce | I have a nice wine story. It’s not about fakes or mixing Sprite with top Bordeaux or someone being the first Chinese to pass a super tough exam. It’s about regular consumers and the future of wine in a nation with huge potential. It has two parts.
One is the annual Grape Wall Challenge. Since 2009, we’ve asked Chinese consumers to be wine judges. They taste blind, pick favorites and discuss their preferences with Ma Huiqin, one of China’s top wine marketing experts. In a top-down trade, we’re the only ones with such a consumer-first event, as best I know.
The other is World Marselan Day. Chinese producers are Cabernet-centric but there is lots of talk of finding “China’s grape”, like Malbec for Argentina or Shiraz for Australia. Marselan, a Cabernet-Grenache cross first planted in Hebei in 2001 and now found nationwide—with tasty results—is a leading candidate.
Tomorrow, our ninth Grape Wall Challenge will feature Marselan. Consumers from the real estate, marketing, catering, entertainment and other fields will try wines from Xinjiang, Ningxia, Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong. And on Friday, I will launch World Marselan Day, a grape used for commercial wines in more than 20 nations now.
That’s it. Nothing so sexy as fakes or Cola and Lafite. Just an attempt to learn more about what regular consumers enjoy in a market that holds so much potential and increasingly sees people buying based on taste rather than status.
You can also participate in World Marselan Day beyond Beijing: open a bottle of Marselan on Friday and raise a glass to Paul Truel, the grape’s creator, then take a photo and post! (#worldmarselanday)
More info here! worldmarselanday.com