China: why Italian wine is becoming more and more popular

Italy is among the top-five wine exporters in the country

Vinitaly 2016

L'ingresso di Vinitaly 2016 – Credits: Ansa

Claudia Astarita

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Figures speak clearly: Italian wine exports to China registered a 29% increase, which is an historical record.

In 2017, China imported 746 million litres of wine, 17% of foreign wine compared to the previous years. Italy has entered the top-five circle of countries exporting wine to China with 130 million litres, preceded by Spain, Chile, Australia and France.

Today, business dinners in China are always characterized by good wine – besides tea, always present at every table. The broadening of the wine market has required a new professional figure, with sommeliers becoming more and more popular and requested. The number of students attending the training to become sommelier offered since 2008 by the Northwest Normal University (Lanzhou) has registered a sharp increase. There is a specific course named “Wine Science and Culture” that is taught by professor Kong Weibao which counts today more than 2,000 people enrolled. These numbers can easily offer some hints on how important is for young Chinese millennials to eat and drink well, regardless of the price.

China represents a strategic market for Italian wine producers. Vinitaly – the most important Italian wine fair - has completed this year its roadshow passing by China. Starting from, the event stopped in three Chinese cities - Shenzhen, Changsha, Wuhan – consolidating Made in Italy presence in Asia.

As highlighted by Giovanni Mantovani, Veronafiere General Director, "the three cities hosting the roadshow represent strategic hubs to spread Italian wine culture, history and lifestyle. Italian wine exports registered a 50% increase over the last 10 years but there is still a lot of work to do to catch up the main competitors".

Another great challenge is to make Chinese people fall in love with Italian wine before they start producing it on their own. And this assumption looks quite real: over the last 20 years, the number of vineyards in the country registered a 407% increase.

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