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China (ES)
Chine (F)
China (GB)
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Wine growing in China 4,600 years ago is indicated by the contents of 200 clay pots found near Rizhao (Shandong) in 1995, which date back to 2,600 BC. BC were dated. Residues of grape wine were found in these. The discoverer Zhang Qian (195-114 BC) returned in 138 BC. Chr. Back from his travels from the West during the Han Dynasty and brought with him wine-making knowledge. The first written documents come from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when Emperor Li Shimin vulgo Taizong (599-649) noticed the special quality of the grapes from the Turpan Basin, which is why he had his territory extended to the northwest region of Xinjiang. Vinifera varieties called snake, mare's teat (Mare's Nipple) and dragon pearl were probably imported from Russia as early as the middle of the 7th century. Marco Polo (1254-1324) reports on wine plantations and excellent wine in the northeastern region of Taiyuan. In the 14th century, however, many vineyards were cleared in favor of grain cultivation on imperial orders.

Wine has never become an important part of life in China like all other large cultural peoples. Next to the climate, which is characterized by cold winters and extremely hot summers in large areas, is probably due to the huge rice and grain areas and also to the eating habits, because in Chinese cuisine particularly spicy dishes are popular, with which rice schnapps goes much better than Wine. The grape wine (grape alcohol) so called in China also played alongside that for the lower-alcohol beverages rice wine (Mijiu) played a subordinate role for a very long time. Wine remained an exclusive rarity for a small wealthy minority for over a thousand years; that is only beginning to change rapidly today.

Modern Chinese wine history began in 1892. The businessman Cheong Fatt Tze vulgo Chang Bishi (1841-1916) bought land in Yantai (Shandong), imported 150 varieties with 500,000 vines from Europe and the USA and founded the Chang Yu winery. The Austrian-Hungarian consul Baron Max von Babo (1862-1933) committed. This carried barrels, presses and 400,000 Riesling seedlings from Austria and brought the winery to an international reputation. That was the birth of the multinationals Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Company, At the beginning of the 20th century, other large wineries were founded, such as 1910 by French missionaries Shang-Yi (now Beijing Friendship Winery) in Shandong, 1914 Melco in Quingdao by German missionaries and by Japanese Tung-Hua in Jilin.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, extensive vineyards were created on the Yellow River. From the late 1970s, foreign investments were then promoted. The first partner was the French company Rémy Martin in 1980 (today Rémy Cointreau ), the brand with Chinese investors Dynasty produced. The Huadong Winery in Qingdao (Shandong) was built in 1985 by investors from Honkong and in 1990 by Allied Domecq acquired. And the French company Pernod Ricard founded the "Dragon Seal" brand together with the "Beijing Friendship Winery" in 1987.

The food company Hua Xia founded the in 1988 Hua Xia Winery with the "Great Wall" brand. The "Marco Polo Winery" in Yantai was created in 1990 in cooperation with Italian investors and a rice wine producer. The Spanish family business Torres founded the wine wholesaler "Torres China" in 1997. The Hong Kong chemical group "Leung's Group" acquired the "Suwu Zhuangyan Winery" in Gansu in 2000. All of these companies imported European varieties, modern cellar facilities and employed foreign ones oenologists, The Chinese top 10 companies produce around 80% of the wine volume.

The most important wine growing areas are located on the coast to the Yellow and South China Sea in the east of the country, starting above Shanghai to the extreme northwest on the border with Mongolia, The most suitable wine region for European varieties is the province of Shandong, south of Beijing, with the best sub-areas Lao Shan and Da Za Shan with about 20% of the area. It lies on the lower reaches of the Yellow River (Huang He) and has coastlines to the Gulf of Bohai and the Yellow Sea. Due to the proximity of the sea there is a maritime climate. This is followed by the province of Hebei with the Changli sub-area known as "Bordeaux China", where the Tyrolean company Swarovski-Langes operates the "Bodega Langes". Other wine-growing regions in the northeast are Tianjin , Liaoning and Jilin .

China - wine regions

The central north-lying province of Ningxia is one of the most promising wine-growing areas. It is a high plateau at 1,100 meters above sea level with soils made of clay, loess and sand with a high proportion of humus. The climate is characterized by 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and a precipitation-free vegetation period. That is why there is an artificial one irrigation the vineyards with the waters of the Yellow River. Here, under the advice of the Austrian Laurenz Maria Moser an operation of the multinational Yantai Changyu built up. Other areas include the Gansu to the northwest and the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau to the southwest. Finally, in the extreme northwest of the country is the largest wine growing area, Xinjiang . Here there was already in the Turpan basin in the 2nd century BC. The earliest Chinese vineyards mentioned at the beginning. The sunny area with lime-rich sandy soils and large 24-hour temperature differences that promote the aromas is considered the best for viticulture.

In 2012, the vineyard area totaled 706,000 hectares with a rapidly increasing trend. From 2000, there was more than a three-fold increase in just 12 years. But only a relatively small part with around 80,000 hectares is used for the production of 15.5 million hectoliters of wine. There are hundreds of native grape varieties, mostly from Wild vines descended. Many vines are not grafted as there are none here phylloxera gave. For those produced on a large scale table grapes and raisins Beichun, Long Yan (dragon eye), Jifeng (Ju Feng), mare teats, chicken heart (Cock's Heart) and crosses of the Muscat d'Hamburg with varieties of the Asian species Vitis amurensis used. Around 80% of the vineyards are planted with non-Vinifera varieties. The Blend from 2010 includes the quality wine grape varieties with about 30,000 hectares from which wines come from European standards:





Cabernet Sauvignon red - 22612
Merlot red - 3560
Carmenère red Cabernet Blended 1353
Chardonnay White - 738
Cabernet Franc red - 507
Riesling White - 437
Syrah red Petite Sirah, Shiraz 223
Ruby Cabernet red - 40
Pinot Noir red - 40
Garnacha Tinta red Grenache Noir 11
Chenin Blanc White - 10
Gewurztraminer / Traminer White - 5
Cinsault White Cinsault 3
Pinot Blanc White - 2
Pinot gris White - 2
Sauvignon Blanc White - 1
Sémillon White - 1
Crystal White - ?
Tuo Xian White Tuo Xian Putao ?

However, wine still plays a subordinate role in the daily life of the Chinese; also because it is expensive. Prices of 50 euros and more per bottle, especially for products from abroad, are not uncommon. The per capita consumption in the year is constantly increasing and is already around a bottle compared to the end of the 1990s with a quarter liter at the time. The most popular light alcohol drink is beer, the national drinks Baijiu ( spirit ) and Mijiu ( rice wine ). There is, however, a trend reversal towards red wine in particular, with around 80%, which is why french paradox as well as the great importance of the color red. Because red is not only the national color, but also a symbol of wealth, power and happiness in Chinese culture. This also manifests itself in the name for wine, which is usually referred to as Pútáojiǔ (grape alcohol), but also regardless of the color as Hóngjiǔ (red alcohol).

On wine law by European standards, there is no such thing. And not seldom is Chinese (still) blended with foreign wine. The state is intervening more and more in unfair practices. In 2010, 30 companies were closed in the Hebei region after Pantsch scandals and label fraud became noticeable. In 2013, Xi Jinping (* 1953) became the new president and intensified the fight against corruption. More than 90% of the production is consumed in our own country. However, wine is only drunk from the upper middle class, so it is the drink of the wealthy. In China, only around 40 million of the 1.4 billion people drink wine (3%). The Chinese consumer is still learning, so to speak - it is not uncommon for wine to be mixed with Coca Cola and the red wine to be cooled with ice cubes. The custom or bad manners of ganbei as with schnapps (ex-drinking) is still widespread. In 2014, wine production was already around 16 million hectoliters, which made China the fifth largest wine producer in the world. The state is investing heavily in wineries and structures in order to position China among the top 3 wine countries in the foreseeable future.

Map: Von Pancrat - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link
edited by Norbert Tischelmayer / February 2018

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