Here at VinePair, we’ve become pretty interested in China’s recent obsession with all things wine. As you know from our 2013 wine consumption map, the country is on its way to becoming the largest global consumer, as well as the largest global producer, of wine, and, to many wine writers, China’s obsession has seemingly come out of nowhere.
There are a lot of theories as to why China has recently become so hell bent on consuming the majority of the world’s wine. Many theories have to do with economics, claiming that as Chinese society is becoming more middle class, its citizens are seeking out global symbols that help signal their new middle class status, which includes drinking wine. These theories are coupled with reports that many people in China don’t actually like the taste of the wine they’re buying and are mixing it with coke, more on that in a later post.
Recent reports, however, have found a connection between China’s obsession with wine, and their history of practicing eastern medicine. China is a population comfortable with consuming foods whose sole purpose is for health benefits, and wine seems to be one of those products.
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In a recent survey of 913 upper- and middle-class urban Chinese aged 18 to 50, the overwhelming reason given for why they drink wine was because it’s supposed to be good for your health. Enjoying the taste of wine actually came in fourth.
While this is not a concrete enough study to claim 100 percent that perceived health benefits are the reason the Chinese are currently becoming so obsessed with wine, it’s another very interesting wrinkle in the puzzle.