Book Review: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry by Loren Mayshark

Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry
Author: Loren Mayshark
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.

Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.

There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”

I’ll start out straight by saying I don’t think I’ve had Chinese wine. Maybe by accident or when I didn’t know the wine was Chinese, but not on purpose. After reading Inside the Chinese Wine Industry, I’m eager to try one, though. With over seven hundred wineries in China, it will not be hard to find one I like, I suppose!

One of the first chapters in the book is a run-down of the history of China, linking this history to the origins of wine consumption. The chapters, while containing a lot of information, are actually pretty easy to read and overall, the book is a fast read, and it never feels “heavy”. Sometimes nonfiction books feel “heavy” to read because they contain a lot of information all at once, but I didn’t have that sense here.

The history of wine was most interesting for me, from the wine used as an aspect of religious sacrifice, to the Five Year Plans from Mao, we get a condensed but intriguing review of Chinese history. Then, the book focuses on some of the most popular kinds of wine in China, the global considerations the global wine market should keep in mind regarding Chinese wines, and much, much more. The book also makes some predictions for the future of the Chinese wine industry that seem to be accurate to me as well (after reading this book).



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