What Makes Chinese Wine Red?

The following has been posted in online forums in China, and claims to expose the dirty secrets of the nascent Chinese wine industry, excerpts translated by CDT.

Xi Si Hutong (alley), 2008-10-22 17:28:02

Recently, Mr. Wang, a board chairman of a Chinese winery at Hebei Province was overwhelmed with conflicted emotions. He has been in the Chinese wine industry for five years. After spending time in this dirty vat, he understood well many “behind the scenes” tricks. Should he reveal the secrets to the public? If he did, his company could be caught up in a scandal and would inevitably suffer a loss. If he chose not to speak, it would go against his conscience to deceive the consumers.

After thinking back and forth, the chairman finally decided to anonymously reveal the secrets of the wine industry to the media.

According to the internal source, “wine made from grapes grown in China occupies only 20% of the Chinese wine market, and the remaining 80% is imported junk wine.” “The market size is about 300,000 tons today in China; however, only 20% is produced locally and 80% or more is from imports. What are the imports? They are ‘junk wines, so called ‘garbage-rank imported wine,’ just like the second-hand suits imported from Japan and Korea in the past. The compositions of these junk wines are unknown, and the quality and quantity of each gradient is difficult to monitor. Most of them are not qualified for the aging process or were manufactured during bad years for wineries.”

The Chairman admitted honestly, “I have no idea what my colleagues will say about this situation. However, as an entrepreneur who is passionate about the wine industry and is dedicated to creating a gold label in Chinese wine, I feel very pained to see this happen. Why do our Chinese consumers have to drink the junk wine that the foreigners do not drink?! Remixed wine occupies about 70% market share of the wine that is sold for under 30 RMB, 40% for that under 60 RMB and 50% on average for wine under 200 RMB. In particular, the wine sold at nightclubs (entertainment places) is extremely poor quality. (The manufacturers) add food coloring to dry white wine to make dry red wine. If you see large amounts of food coloring in a winery, it is very likely that they blend in food coloring to make the wine red. Generally speaking, a winery should not add sugar, food coloring, flavorings or oak essence during the manufacturing process. It is usual that wine may not mature well enough (to reach the market), however, the wine that reaches the market has to be pure without any additives.

“Frankly speaking, I would challenge any domestic winery that claimed they have never blended any additives into their wine,” said the insider. “Before I entered the industry, I would have been fairly content with such red wine. It looks red and tastes not bad. However, the authentic dry red wine should be devoid of any additives. Most wines we see on the market today have additives, such as sugar, food coloring, flavorings and oak essence. Because of (the inferior quality of) the junk wine, it is necessary to add additives to cover the defects. People may notice that large quantities of imported wine usually arrive during the summer in plastic containers by sea. Those junk wines reach our Chinese consumers after a tempting makeover.”


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