China’s Wine Consumption Shows Rapid Growth reports that China is becoming an increasing factor in the wine market.

CHINA consumes the largest amount of wine in Asia and its market has great growth potential due to relaxed import duties and increased exposure to quality wines, an organizer of a major wine convention said yesterday.

Only 5% of the wine consumed in China is imported, but apparently Chinese palates are improving and the demand for better wines is on the rise.

Wine consumption should grow about 7.8 percent annually from 1999 to 2009, Vinexpo’s study said. By 2009, the country will consume 766.26 million bottles, it predicted.

For affordable wine consumers worldwide, that statistic should be a bit scary. With Chinese wine consumption edging toward a billion bottles, and a projected grape shortage in Australia by 2010, and we could be looking at a real squeeze in five years or so. It’s likely Chinese domestic production will rise, of course, but whether they can ramp up quickly enough to keep pace with demand is uncertain. And, depending on the increasingly sophisticated preferences of Chinese consumers, domestic vintages may not be as desirable as imports from Australia, California, and elsewhere.

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