Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Inside the Chinese Wine Industry by Loren Mayshark

About the Book
Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry
Author: Loren Mayshark
Genre: Nonfiction

The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.

Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.

There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”

Author Bio

Loren Mayshark studied Chinese art, religion, philosophy, and history while earning a B.A. in history from Manhattanville College in New York. After graduation, he attended The Gotham Writers Workshop and the prestigious New York Writers Workshop. He has written about the Chinese wine industry for The Jovial Journey and Sublime China.

After college, he supported his itinerant lifestyle by working dozens of jobs, including golf caddy, travel writer, construction worker, fireworks salesman, substitute teacher, and vineyard laborer. Predominantly his jobs have been in the restaurant industry. He cut his teeth as a server, maître d’, and bartender at San Francisco’s historic Fisherman’s Grotto #9, the original restaurant on the Fisherman’s Wharf. While working with a colorful crew of primarily Mexican and Chinese co-workers.

He spent much of his young adult life exploring the wine industry from Sonoma Valley to the North Fork of Long Island, immersing himself in vineyards and learning valuable lessons. He has traveled extensively in South America, Europe, and Asia. He presently splits his time between Western New York and Sweden.

His first book, Death: An Exploration, won the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award in the category of Death and Dying and was a finalist for book of the year in the 2016 Foreword INDIES Awards in the category of Grief/Grieving (Adult Nonfiction). Inside the Chinese Wine Industry is his third book.

For more information visit his website:
Keep up with him on Twitter: @LorenMayshark

Author Website Bookpage:


Excerpt 3
Wine in Communist China

In 1949, soon after the communist party took power in China, Changyu was nationalized and focused on making brandy, to the delight of the communist party’s senior leaders. Under communist rule, the consumption of baijiu among other spirits and beer dominated the Chinese alcohol industry. Commonly, tipplers at lavish Chinese banquets, often thrown by a member of the communist party, were encouraged to “Gan bei” which roughly translates to empty the glass. In America, there are other related phrases such as “bottoms up.” Tony Stavely, professor emeritus at Keene State College and oenophile who has spent time in China, recalls speaking with a U.S. diplomat who served in Taiwan. He taught Stavely that at a proper Chinese banquet, a toast must be made by someone who wants a sip of wine, and then all at the table must raise a glass and sip also. The consumption of alcohol in China is often done by adherence to social rules garnered from old traditions. These traditions have made for some interesting situations for foreigners who are newly initiated into the drinking culture and perhaps no drinking tale is more colorful and significant than that of Richard Nixon’s visit.

In the winter of 1972, president Richard Nixon sat at a lavish dinner held in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, surrounded by many of China’s elite. This occasion was the eve of a momentous change in geopolitics. Nixon was encouraged by Zhou Enlai, Mao’s number one man, to gan bei the powerful baijiu in his cup. Instead, Nixon timidly sipped the fiery booze, walking a fine line of not insulting his hosts, while not getting too plastered to continue his negotiations. Nixon’s caginess proved fruitful for the United States and the Chinese wine industry, eventually opening China up to the West. But soon Chinese politics was headed for more major adjustments. As Chairman Mao’s days were numbered, the party began to drift in a different direction.

The most significant change in the economic structure of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) came with the emergence of Deng Xiaoping after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976. Deng drastically changed the Chinese communist orthodoxy by moving from a command economy to what was referred to as “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.” Deng rationalized this move with this famous analogy: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.” As time wore on, China’s financial success was seen as fueling a rise in alcohol consumption. The grains used to make certain liquors were produced on a larger scale, making them cheaper and more available. Also, more people had disposable income to purchase powerful liquor, namely baijiu. The prevailing solution in the party was that the grains that were once used to produce hard liquor could be better utilized as fodder for animals and to feed the masses of starving Chinese who did not have the same opportunities as those with close ties to the ruling government. This created a demand for something to fill the void.

Deng had an ambitious plan to double the nation’s GDP during the 1980s. Although Chinese economy saw unprecedented growth under Deng, the party was still grappling with starvation and malnourishment as it strained to feed its rapidly growing population. This made the expensive baijiu that was still being consumed by the leadership (sometimes to the point of notable inebriation) a conspicuously frivolous way to use grains that could feed their starving countrymen. Unlike sorghum, rice and other grains used for baijiu, grapes could be grown in a wide array of territories, even in places where the soil and other vital conditions were not hospitable to growing grains used in baijiu.

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