Sunday, June 28, 2009

Drinking habits

I'm taking advantage of this moment of clarity. My mind always works better when I'm alone and it's raining outside.

I'm really interested in knowing people's drinking habits. How often do you drink wine? How many bottles a week? A month? Who purchases the wine? How do you choose bottles? Average price? Who do you drink with?

People in the wine trade make this huge deal about the Chinese and Russian markets gobbling up the most expensive Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, and fueling speculation in traditionally UK and US markets. They spread this notion that the Chinese will pay a 25% premium on any price, and really don't care how expensive it is - that they will buy any Lafite, regardless of price, provenance or palatableness.

Now, I can't speak for the Russians (Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, and Marxists alike), Brazilians, Singaporeans, Indians, or any other developing country. I can only speak for my Chinese comrades, for whom I've been observing (wine-drinking wise) for quite some time.

Chinese people don't drink wine. Let's clear that up now. Chinese people don't drink wine. I can honestly say that under 1% of Chinese drink any wine regularly, and a far less number are actual connoisseurs. And no, just because you can afford to splash $2000 on a bottle of La Tâche, does not grant you into this exclusive club of true wine lovers.

Our cuisine just does not pair well with the wines that the wine press insists that we're shocking. Tannic, structured red wines (Bordeaux) just do not pair well with Chinese cuisine. Burgundy is a better match, but the Chinese are still feeling their way around Bordeaux (outside of Lafite). Burgundy is far too confusing, even for well-lubricated wine drinkers.

The only wine that pairs wonderfully is German riesling. Other white wines as well, but it's the riesling's touch of residual sugar and steely acidity that marries it so well to rich, complex Chinese cuisine. But then, my comrades still view white wine as the drink for dainty ladies.

It's a cultural issue. Chinese people drink beer, Shaoxing wine, and other spirits with their food. At the moment, red wine is used as a way to show wealth, trendiness, etc. Anything but taste.

So to the wine press: stop spreading this nonsense about Chinese people taking over fine wine markets. It's not going to happen if my comrades aren't drinking any wine.

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