Australia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine, with approximately 750 million litres of wine a year being shipped to international markets. Wine is produced in every state, and there are more than 60 designated wine regions across the country. In recent years, there has been a significant growth in the Chinese market, which has become a formidable recipient of Australia’s wine exports.
It seems that as wine culture in China continues to grow, so does the preference for Australian wines. Market trends indicate that Australian wines are only growing in popularity in China, especially as wine starts replacing other alcoholic beverages, such as Henessey XO, which has historically been the drink of choice at business meetings. In fact, the value of Australian wine exports have reached their highest levels in nearly ten years – and this is largely as a result of China’s penchant for Aussie wines. In 2015 alone, the value of exports rose by 14% from $2.1 billion. Even though the USA is still Australia’s largest market, China was up by 66%, producing $370m in export revenue.
From the numbers, it is evident that Australian wines are very popular amongst Chinese consumers, but this should come as no surprise:
Free trade agreement
Assistant Agricultural Minister, Anne Ruston predicted that there would be a growth in sales to the Chinese market as a result of a China-Australia free trade agreement. However, sales were already rising before the free trade agreement was implemented.
“The fact that Australia’s strongest export growth was recorded in to China, and the new ChAFTA effects are not yet reflective in Wine Australia’s figures really does indicate that we are in the midst of yet another boost in market optimism,” Ruston said. Tariffs on bulk wine have gone down by a significant 8% and on bottled wine by just over 6%. The free trade agreement will contribute to an already increasing demand for Australian wines in China.
As number four in the world for wine exporters, it goes without saying that Australian wines are top notch. Famous for their fresh, fruity red and white table wines, the quality is consistently excellent. Due to arable lands and a warm climate, Australia produces a unique type of wine that is palatable to the occasional wine drinker and the experienced sommelier. And, as China has a wide mix of wine drinkers, Australian wines suit them all.
Most Australian wines in export markets are inexpensive varietal wines that sell for $10 a bottle or less. Compared to the more expensive European vintages, Australian wines offer great value for superb quality and this is very appealing to Chinese consumers. Many of these varietal wines are captivatingly bottled and labelled and appeal to broad range of palates.
An acquired taste
While it may seem stereotypical to claim that an entire country has the same taste, when it comes to wine, it appears that the Chinese favour a certain style. Mitchell Taylor, of Taylor’s Estate, claims that the Chinese like a soft, silky wine, and that is exactly what Australia offers. Their love for Australian wine also seems to stem from emotional bond, too. The Chinese appreciate the high quality of Australian dairy products and vitamins and they now identify Australia as pure, safe and healthy country. Mitchell claims that the Chinese like family brands, consistency and a trusted reputation. In addition, because Australia already conducts a fair amount of trade with China, a trusting relationship has formed.
Food and wine pairing
As we all know the art of pairing wine with food is a skilled and important one. However, the Chinese seem to have got it made when they started importing wines from Australia and discovered that the flavour profile of Australian wines perfectly complements Cantonese food. For example, the Clare Valley Reislings, with their lovely lime citrus flavours add a magical compliment to the spice of Cantonese dishes.