The State of Italian Wine
Italy is one of the largest wine producers in the world. In 2017, the Bel Paese of Europe produced 49 million hectoliters of wine out of a total of 251 million. Italian wines are extensively loved by customers in Asia, especially China, and are praised for their high quality and outstanding value for money.
The number of exports has increased in recent years as Italian wineries perceive great potential in the Asian market. Exports to China hit an all-time high of US$161 million in 2017. The increase is attributable to Chinese wine lovers’ maturing palates, which have gotten more experienced and sophisticated in their selections.
Italian Wine in China
One of Europe’s Best
In 2018, Italy ranked fourth among the top wine exporters to China, trailing only France, Australia, and Chile. China bought 36.03 million liters of wine for US$168.4 million, representing a 63 percent increase year over year. Overall, 6.3 percent of the market is occupied.
In China, Italy’s average import price also increased. The rate climbed by 14% between 2015 and 2017. The current average import price per liter is US$4.72. However, Italian vintners must contend with the reality that most Chinese customers are less familiar with their wines than with those from other countries, such as France and Australia.
From Fashion to Wine: Revamping the Italian Image
China’s consumers associate Italy with fashion and design rather than wine. Producers and groups working in the wine industry have been working hard to reverse this. “I love Italian wines” was introduced in China by the ICE-Italian Trade Promotion Agency in 2017. The goal of the campaign was to recruit trade professionals to serve as Italian wine ambassadors in China.
“I Love Italian Wines” events have visited 12 cities in the last two years, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Qingdao. The dictionary of Italian wine in Chinese is another big endeavor aiming at raising the visibility of Italian wines in China. The University of Milan initiated the publication in April of this year.
Many vintners agree that there is a lack of unified and official promotional activities of Italian wines in China. Italian wines can be better understood with good education and cultural communication, which could lead to increased demand, which would benefit all of Italy’s wine regions.
Popular Italian Wines in China Market
The most popular wines among high-income consumers in Shanghai and Beijing are Valpolicella and Amarone. In the meanwhile, Aglianico, Barolo, Brunello, and Chianti can be found in China with relative ease. Even in smaller towns, sparkling Prosecco and Moscato d’Asti are frequently accessible.
Southern Italian wines such as Primitivo and Nero d’Avola, which are famed for their affordability, are gaining appeal among Chinese millennials. White wines from Italy, such as Pecorino and Soave, are also popular. Chinese wine enthusiasts choose it because of its light, crisp flavor and lower cost. Italian wines are diverse enough to match well with a variety of Chinese dishes.
Italian wine has been able to steadily grow in China thanks to its high quality and inexpensive wines. As Chinese customers become more open-minded to new tastes, sales of Italian wine have increased. Italian wine producers and dealers believe that as China’s wine market matures, Italian wine will soon be able to compete with other mainstream vintages.