From WINE SEARCHER – AFP | 29-Jan-2014

China tops world league of red wine drinkers dethroning France as the world’s largest consumer, according to a market survey issued by Vinexpo.  155 milion cases (12 bottles, 9 litres) i-e 1.86 billion bottles of red wine were consumed in China in 2013 – an increase of 136 % compared with 2008.  France’s total was 150 million cases, followed by Italy (141 million), the US (134 million) and Germany (112 million).  These figures show the ever-growing thirst in China for red wine, due to its perceived health benefits and to the highly symbolic importance of the color red.

There was a real change in Chinese attitudes, » Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise told AFP. « Vines have been planted on a massive scale and distribution networks have multiplied.

Between 2007 and 2013, red wine consumption increased nearly threefold in the People’s Republic, while dropping by 18 % in France and 5.8 % in Italy.


When it comes to all types of wine, however, China is the 5th largest consumer, still well behind the United States, France and Italy.

According to Vinexpo, the rising popularity of red wine relates to the fact that in Chinese culture, red is associated with wealth, power and good luck. « In business circles, these three values are fundamental. Red wine is therefore an obvious choice for business hospitality, where partners can drink to each others’ health. » In addition, the country’s flag is colored revolutionary red with gold stars.

155m cases of red wine were consumed in China in 2013
© AFP | Love of the colour red in China extends to the popularity of wine.

Deglise pointed out that rise in Chinese consumption is encouraging for French producers, as sales of red wine on home soil are expected to drop by more than 7 percent by 2017, he noted.  “Exports become even more crucial as the domestic market cannot absorb the entire production. »

White wine consumption is also on the rise in China, albeit on a much smaller scale.  Whites made up just 8 % of consumption in 2011, according to Vinexpo figures. This figure is expected to grow considerably in the next few years, led mainly by female and younger drinkers.

Most wine consumed in China is domestically produced, but imports have become increasingly important.  From 2007 to 2013, wine imports increased sevenfold and today they have a market share of 19 %.

The Vinexpo study also reveals that world wine consumption has risen in the last five years, and predicts a growth of nearly 5 % between 2014 and 2017.  Asia will lead this increase, followed by the United States.  The European wine market is expected to remain fairly stable, with a fall of 0.14 percent predicted.

The market survey was conducted by U.K.-based research firm International Wine & Spirit Research ahead of the Asian edition of Vinexpo, which will take place in Hong Kong at the end of May 2014.
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