By Jim Boyce | Behind the fleeting headlines about flourishing wine imports in China lies the enduring reality of actually selling that stock. Wine retail is a tough game with constantly changing rules. Or, more accurately, like dozens of games, with each region and demographic niche having its own challenges.
When it comes to China wine retail, Shanghai is arguably the most intriguing game of all, a city that processes one third of wine imports, has the most disposable income per capita in China and offers a history of openness to foreign products and practices.
The most recent issue of Meininger’s Wine Business International (subscribe here) includes a story I wrote (jpeg / pdf) about Shanghai wine retail. It covers shops, restaurants, hypermarkets, online vendors and more. A few quotes:
- “I would say Shanghai nurtured the first group of people that really started to drink wine for its quality, that cared about what’s in the bottle.”—Oliver Zhou, vinehoo.com
- “My feeling is young professional females who know what they like, and see wine as part of their lifestyle, are a bigger part of the market in Shanghai.”—Campbell Thompson, The Wine Republic
- “More wine bars, such as UVA, Salute and Funkadeli, offer local consumers a typical Italian ‘aperitivo’…. [They] may shift to southern Italian wine like Primitivo and wine from Sicily, or turn to more expensive bottles such as Barolo, Brunello and Amarone.”—Simone Incontro, VinItaly
- “Platforms like Tmall and JD.com, that’s actually where people go and shop for whatever they need, from a toaster to a bottle of wine.”—Alberto Fernandez, Torres China
- “We attract Chinese consumers, coming around 6 PM, then Westerners between 7:30 PM, then Japanese and Koreans after dinner, around 10 PM, for oysters, Champagne and whisky.”—Charles Carrard, Paradox
The article also includes quotes from Alberto Fernandez of Torres China, Andrew Tan of 1919, Marcus Ford of Pudao Wines, Tommy Lam of China National Sommelier Competition, Vicente Muedra of Sommelier International, and last but not least, Thomas Sammons, the former U.S. consul in Shanghai who wrote about the scene in 1916.
Note: Check out bonus interview excerpts, including with Simone InContro of VinItaly, Oliver Zhou of Vinehoo, Charles Carrard of Paradox, Alberto Fernandez of Torres / Everwines, Campbell Thompson of The Wine Republic and Marcus Ford of Pudao.
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