Penguin Power | Wang Shenghan’s book connects to Chinese wine consumers

One of China’s biggest online wine personalities shifted from bottle to book this week to release a guide six years in the making. Wang Shenghan aka Lady Penguin says that Welcome to Wine: 9 Basics for Beginners is the book she needed when first starting out in wine.

“I never found a book that could be used quickly by the lay person, even in the English-language domain,” said Wang, who has millions of followers on the Douyin social media app alone, while announcing the launch. She said that wine books typically use obscure language while piling up mountains of info or reduce wine to a boring scientific account.

“This book is important because it will reach beyond the normal circle of wine consumers and trade and to the general public,” says Ma Huiqin, a professor at China Agricultural University who has taught wine appreciation to over 15,000 students. “This could become the most popular wine education book in China.”

And it appears Wang’s musings have indeed hit a chord with consumers: she says sales have gone so well that a reprint is already in the works.

The book, the seed of which dates to Wang’s days working in a New York restaurant, studying WSET and spending a year at Le Cordon Bleu, is divided into several parts.

One includes the basic principles of wine making and tasting, which Wang says is common in many books, but that she wanted to give an immediacy, to reflect the real wine world, instead of being abstract.

Another covers the underlying rules that affect wine style and quality, and the different experiences of wine novices and experts. For example, where novices detect sweet spice character in a wine, an expert might deduce the wine was made with new American oak barrels. An understanding of styles helps give context for wine appreciation.

Yet another part looks at select grape varieties and wine regions, with Wang justifying her choices by stating, “The world of wine is by no means an equal world.” (Ma Huiqin noted that Wang also included some Chinese wine regions in the book.)

In the end, Wang say readers will have far more wine knowledge than the average person, and even many so-called “wine experts”, and ultimately be empowered.

With the book finished, might I suggest Wang’s next big project be to create her own ice wine brand? Penguin, ice, wine, get it?

See also:

‘Wine can be McDonald’s, wine can be Michelin’ | Q&A with Wang Shenghan aka Lady Penguin

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