The State of Spanish Wine
While France still takes the lion’s share of wine sales in China, competitors from Spain have been gaining ground. Spanish wineries are benefitting from the shift in consumers’ preferences as they become more adventurous and educated about different wines.
China is currently Spain’s fifth largest wine market. Meanwhile, Spain is China’s fifth largest wine supplier, with a market share of 6%. In 2018, exports to China totaled 61.2 million liters, valued at US$162.1 million. Average import price for Spanish bottled wines ranks as the lowest among all countries at US$2.65 per liter.
Spanish Wine in China
Maintaining the Spanish Standards
Most wineries from Spain stayed true to their roots regarding branding and product packaging when selling in China. Spanish wines often comes with standardized labels, like Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva to indicate the amount of aging the wine has received. Chinese consumers also have no problem identifying the geographical origin, wine style and quality as they are clearly indicated.
Spanish wines sold in China also retain their characteristics. Vintners are confident that consumers will find the perfect beverage for them with the variety of Spanish wines available in the market. There are wines with mild acidity like Cava and those higher acidity like Rioja Alta. From sweet, fruity wines to dry, light wines, Spanish wines has a lot to offer to Chinese consumers.
Debunking Fallacy: Too Cheap and “Jammy” for China
In the past, Chinese consumers saw Spanish products as being cheap and of poor quality, as well as too “jammy” (too sweet) and oaky. Compared to French wines, vintages from Spain are less expensive. For instance, a top bottle of Spanish wine may range from US$260–$390, but a bottle of a highly rated French vintage could be double that amount.
In general, most wines from Spain lack of renown in China. The only regions and labels that are most popular are Rioja and Ribera de Duero. Consistent promotional efforts by producers, however, are changing the market landscape. They have also underscored some of the distinguishing values of Spanish wines, like value for money and the extensive range available.
Popular Brands in the China Market
Spain is known for its Tempranillo wine production in both red and white variations, which come from the major regions, Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Spanish wines are sold in different off-trade channels in China. They are also available in the largest restaurants and bars in the country. Some of the most popular wines are Rioja, Jumilla, Castilla y Leon VT, Toro and Campo de Borja.
Other popular wines from Spain sold in China’s top restaurants are La Mancha, Montsant, Tenerife and Valencia, as well as Valdeorras and Yecla. For wineries, the ones with the biggest presence in the Chinese market are Bodegas Torres, Bodegas Alion, Bodegas Pintia, Franck Massard and Jean Leon.
With its increasing gross domestic product (GDP) and consumption, China has quickly become Spain’s export target for wines. The perception of Spanish wine in China is at an all-time high, having evolved to be considered as a product with a good quality and price ratio.
Consumers also appreciate the wide variety of wine options in terms of appellations of origin and grape varieties. With their hard work in promoting to China’s discerning wine drinkers, Spanish producers are now reaping the reward with the surging sales and imports of their wines.