Wine Sellers Say Demand in Asia Growing

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The Associated Press has covered Wine for Asia with this complimentary article. It is nice to see Asia and India in particular getting attention on the global stage. Santosh Verma, Champagne Indage’s head of business development is quoted in the article.


Wine is becoming a big business in Asia as the region quaffs more glasses of red, white, and bubbly, and at least one Asian country in exporting homegrown wines, even to traditional winemaking countries.
In Singapore, 400 wine producers and retailers set up shop at a three-day Asian wine trade fair that ended Saturday. The number of exhibitors was four times higher than in 2003 – a sign that the global wine industry recognizes Asia’s growth potential, organizers say.
At the Wine for Asia fair, thousands of wine tasters and buyers swirled, sniffed and spat, negotiating business deals and exchanging cards with winemakers over the din of clinking glasses.
The event’s organizers say wine market in Asia is set to grow by 20 percent from 2003-08.
Industry experts say many Asians are growing more likely to choose wine over traditionally more popular beer and whiskey because wine is less expensive than before, more choices are available and the population is increasingly exposed to Western culture.
“Wine has been demystified in the process of globalization,” said Luisa Rust, senior food and beverage export adviser at Austrade, Australia’s business promotion agency. “People see it being drunk by ordinary people on TV, which makes it look accessible for everybody.”
Winemakers say Asians tend to prefer wines with intense, fruit-based flavors to complement the region’s often spicy food.
“Asians like their wines with more fruits, more freshness and lightness, with less tannin,” said Eric Tollemer, Asia sales manager of Bordeaux Bliss, a premium wine company.
“But we’ve also noticed that while in Europe there’s a focus on the pairing of wine with food, here it’s often drank on its own,” Tollemer said.
But Asians are not only drinking more wine – some are making their own.
Indian wine company Champagne Indage Ltd. has produced award-winning wines that it exports under the brand Chateau Indage to countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Singapore.
Other Indian vineyards are also exporting to traditional stalwart wine producers such as France and Italy.
Some consumers are skeptical.
“Some people actually don’t believe wine can be grown in India because they think it needs a colder climate,” said Santosh Verma, Champagne Indage’s head of business development. “But that’s actually not true. All you need is adequate sunlight and rainfall.”
Wine has a narrow niche market in India itself, because many there consider it a luxury only the rich can afford, Verma said.
The picture is different in Singapore, where wine imports jumped 23 percent to 15 million liters (31.7 million pints) last year, from 12.2 million liters (25.78 million pints) in 2003, according to data from International Enterprise Singapore, the wealthy city-state’s trade promotion agency.
“A few years ago at Chinese wedding dinners in Singapore, we’d never see bottles of wine being served, but now we see them quite commonly,” said Singapore-based wine expert Leon Tan. “Wine started gaining acceptance here because it’s seen as a business tool you can socialize with.”

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