When red outvalues gold
By Zhang Shasha  ·  2022-08-24  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Global consumers may first think of France at the mention of wine, but Chilean wines are steadily becoming a new favorite on the rack, especially in China. As more wine aficionados become aware of this Latin American flavor, the “red” business is bound to benefit more people on both sides of the world. 

Although the first European immigrants brought viticulture and enology to Chile when they came to the South American country in the 16th century, the world didn’t quite see the charm of Chilean wines until the 1980s. From that time on, the unique flavor of the grapes, courtesy of the distinctive geographical and climate conditions, together with the application of traditional European winemaking techniques made the Chilean pour a favorite among wine connoisseurs. 

Many Chinese wine consumers had become familiar to this Chilean savor in the 1990s and 2000s, because some domestically produced wine came from Chilean puree, Bai Ziyi, Sales Director with the Chilean VSPT Wine Group in China, told Beijing Review. 

"With its mellow and fruity flavor, Chilean wine is beginner-friendly and meets the tastebuds of Asian consumers," Bai said, adding that the wine also boasts solid sales in Japan and South Korea. 

Bai has been active in the wine industry for almost 20 years. He’s found that over the past decade, Chinese wine consumers are getting younger as many of them studying abroad acquire a better knowledge of wine culture and opt for high-quality products. 

In the past, most domestic wine consumers hailed from Shanghai and other coastal cities in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. Nowadays, inland cities and northeastern cities that previously preferred liquor and beer have joined their wine ranks, Bai added.  

Due to the free trade agreement between China and Chile, consumers can attain superb products at lower prices, which has led to a sales boom of Chilean wine in China, according to Bai.  

The tariff reduced year by year since the free trade agreement between the two countries took effect in October 2006, and in January 2015 Chilean wine enjoyed zero-tariff export to China.  According to China’s General Administration of Customs, the export of Chilean wine to China increased by 27 percent in 2015 alone, and Chile surpassed Australia to become the second largest source of bottled wine in China, only after France, and the largest source of bulk wine in China. 

Meanwhile, China has become Chile’s largest wine export destination followed by Brazil and Britain, according to Wines of Chile, a non-profit, private organization of Chilean wine producers, which established its Asia-Pacific branch in Shanghai in 2013. 

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon  

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