Everyone knows that wine sales are leveling off in North America. Dubai may be an attractive market, but there's religion to contend with. How about Asia Pacific? Now we're talking.
Let's face it, there are more wineries now than 10 years ago, creating a potential for a huge wine glut unless new markets are developed. Even demand for Australian wines saw its first decline, after enjoying a successful decade of export sales.
Now everyone is focused on the two largest emerging markets: China and India. Just imagine the combined population in these two countries and you can see why wine producers are clamoring for position in these regions. It's the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
No doubt, we can envision a future where wine bars would line the cities like Xiamen, Zhuhai, Madras, etc.. and wine appreciation courses are readily available across the region, regular wine columns in several newspapers and magazines; restaurants and private clubs holding winemaker's dinners, tasting events, etc.. Yes it's possible. All that is needed is a commitment to share information and encourage moderate wine consumption as a healthy lifestyle to follow.
One major aspect of this evolution must focus on creating a user friendly approach to matching wine with the complex cuisine in Asia, with all its spices and aromatics. Only when consumers discover how wine can enhance the dining experience will they actually accept wine as a regular part of their food culture. This offers an exciting challenge to wine consultants and distributors: finding the best food and wine pairings in a non western food environment. As such, wine purveyors must embrace this challenge and learn about exotic aromas and flavours - this is the only way one can truly help the consumers to enjoy wine.
Leo J. Baduria
Portfolio Asia Wine & Spirits Ltd.