With a growing middle-class, disposable income and globalization, the wine market re-emerged in China in the 1990s and already became the world’s second-largest in terms of revenue after the United States. The domestic wine production has expanded immensely: China has produced over 900 million liters of grape wine in 2018 and had the second largest vineyard area worldwide. Most prominent vineyards are located in Ningxia, Shandong, Hebei, Jilin, Shanxi, and Shaanxi provinces as well as around Beijing and Tianjin. Cabernet sauvignon grapes, chardonnay, shiraz and some Chinese native grape varieties are widely used among local winemakers. In 2017, China ranked sixth for the number of medals received in Concours Mondial global wine competition. Many of such product quality achievements are due to collaborative foreign partnerships that have been essential in China’s wine production industry. Western (especially French) winemakers are investing in joint ventures in China, bringing in the knowledge and helping to put Chinese wines on the global wine map.
Besides the expanding production, the Chinese market has witnessed a prominent growth in wine sales and consumption. The annual per capita wine sales and consumption remains low compared to the rest of the world, however, the demand is rapidly increasing. Therefore, China relies heavily on wine imports. In 2018, it was the fourth largest wine importer in the world after the U.S., UK and Germany. The biggest volume of imported bottled wine comes from France, yet Georgian, Australian and Chilean wine imports are growing the fastest.
Wine consumers in China are mostly younger urban population. Red wine is often considered as healthy, especially one with a lower alcohol content. Despite the lower prices of several very popular Chinese wine brands such as Changyu and Great Wall, the majority of wine consumers still prefer foreign brands, particularly French, and are becoming increasingly selective. Wine research and purchasing is often done online, on e-commerce platforms such as JD.com, Taobao and Tmall.