Richard Siddle: my visions of China
When's the last time you had a Chinese takeaway? Last week? A fortnight ago? If the pundits are right we'll soon be asking the same question about the last Chinese wine you had.
It may currently be fanciful to think producers such as Dynasty Fine Wines or Grace Vineyard could be as familiar in the nation's wine racks as Jacob's Creek or Blossom Hill. But the pace of change within Hong Kong and China in the past two years alone demonstrates how quickly the world map of wine is changing.
Those present at this month's Wine Future 2011 in Hong Kong were given a ringside seat to the tumultuous changes taking place in the Chinese wine market. We heard how the thirst for imported wine means some 20,000 companies have sprung up in the past few years, all looking to match the demand for imported wine.
It has also shown Chinese wineries the money to be made if they raise their own standards and make more consistent, quality wine.
Whether China has the terroir or climate to make international standard wine on a grand scale remains to be seen. But the fact it can make quality wine is undisputed. As more Chinese wines pick up gold medals in the international wine competitions, the more the wine trade will want to taste and potentially stock them.
We also heard how the Chinese palate is very much an international one and more than capable of enjoying as diverse a range of wines as we do.
A wander around Watson's, the leading Hong Kong wine retailer, was like ticking off a who's who of iconic wines from all over the world, but with a fair share of £9-£10 everyday Malbecs and Sauvignon Blancs as well.
We should certainly not underestimate China's desire to be a leading wine nation. If we can become as familiar with picking up an egg fu yung on the way home then don't be surprised if you go home boasting about the bottle from Grace Vineyard to go with it.