Italian vineyards see a glass that's half full in China

Updated: 2015-03-26 11:01


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"China will be the same if we can help bring Italian culture here, a culture that associates wine with good food. We are thinking about pairing Italian wine with certain Chinese food, even dishes such as Sichuan hotpot."

The second Italian trump card is that it plans to promote its 450 different varieties of native grapes, he said, and educate the Chinese wine drinkers to appreciate the nuances involved in those.

According to Vinitaly International, an exhibition showcasing wine from Italy, 90 percent of French vineyards grow just 15 varieties of grape, and 90 percent of their US counterparts grow only eight.

In contrast, 90 percent of their Italian peers produce wine from 65 grape varieties, it said.

"So when people feel bored and want to taste something new and exciting, they can turn to a host of Italian wines," said Simone Incontro, head of Vinitaly International's Shanghai bureau.

Vinitaly first organized exhibitions in the Chinese mainland in 2006, but within three years it shifted its events to Hong Kong. Now, said Incontro, as the mainland market grows, it is returning to the mainland with events planned in eight cities including Chengdu and Shanghai this year where Italian wine producers, distributors and experts will promote their industry.

Zhuang Meirong, general manager of an Italian wine importer from Shandong province, said some of her peers have switched to distributing Australian wine, but she has remained loyal to Italian wine "because the quality is consistent".

Cavit, which promotes itself as a producer of high-quality, food-friendly Italian wine, already has a representative office in Beijing, run by Project Manager Fiorenzo Biscaglia.

"We really believe in the market and want to stay here," said Biscaglia.

"We are optimistic that wine will become part of Chinese life, just as it is in Italy."

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