China and Sex Appeal – The Future of Wine

While Americans are already indebted to China for saving us from economic collapse (to the tune of $1.7 trillion dollars / 10% of our national debt), we will soon be thanking them for the explosion of the wine market to heights never seen. Wine makers will struggle to keep up with demand and our amber waves of grain could proliferate with gnarly green vines of grapes. Gary Vaynerchuk may even finally be able to buy the NY Jets if he can get exclusive shipping rights to the peoples republic.

Replacing their Pinyin with Wine

China as always been enamored with all things ‘western’ (U.S. Culture). As wine consumption grows in the states, China soon will follow. Americans are imbibing to the tune of 300 million cases per year, a $30 billion dollar business. Experts predict that America will surpass Italy as the wine’iest’ (not whiniest) nation by 2012. While Italians drink about 30 liters per person (40 bottles of wine), Americans only consume 10 liters per person (13 bottles) – Just a side note, I’m doing my very best to up that average but there is only so much one man can do and still maintain a functioning liver. – Sheer population size makes the difference (see sweetie, size does matter). Chinamen (and women) only consumer about 1 1/2 liters of wine per year. That is just two bottles. As all the wino’s out there can attest, that’s a damn shame.

Okay, public school kids, follow my basic math here. US wine biz is $30B, population is 300 million(ish) = $100 per person spent on wine. China’s current wine biz is about $18B, population is 1.3 billion(ish) = $15 per person spent on wine. If marketing experts can put their collective caps together and could get more wine over that great wall the potential is AMAZING. IF the Chinese consumed even 1/2 the wine that Americans did the result would be a wine business that is more than double the size of the U.S. biz (about $65 billion dollars).

Solving the U.S. China Debt Problem

Now, I’m no diplomat but if we could increase Chinese consumption of wine to be at par with American consumption AND we convince them to buy only U.S. produced wine, the total could be equal to the amount of U.S. debt that they currently own. In essence we get them addicted to the magical nectar we could trade wine for debt. Maybe someone at the U.S. Trade department will read this blog and our economic issues could be solved.

Men and Youngsters

Continuing our numbers game, the future of the U.S. wine market is men and the 21-30 age group (millennial generation). Men drink less wine than women. My commentary says that the good men drink wine. Confident men drink spirits of all kinds (except maybe pink martinis). Statistically, however, women drink 60% of the wine consumed in the states. Beer consumption outpaces wine consumption by more than 2 to 1. While beer flavored wine is a potential answer, I think the solution lies in the cool factor and portability of beer. Wine in a can? Maybe the wine glass is too feminine? Half naked women wrestling over a Pinot Noir shouting tastes great, less filling? Part of the battle is de-snobbing the wine world w/o dumbing it down to the Forrest Gump level of, “this wine tastes like purple grapes and this one tastes like green grapes.”

SEX is the answer. Always! Men respond to sex. Wine makers need to appeal to this to gain more inroads with men (especially men 21-30). Personally, I think wine is extremely sexy – except when you drink too much. Here are some possible marketing ideas. Switch Dale Earnhardt Jr. from Amped drinks to Seven Deadly Zins. Publish a series of ‘wine pong‘ clips to YouTube (if you don’t understand that reference then you are not part of the target market). Get Sonoma Valley vineyards to sponsor the next Lollapalooza tour. Infuse wine with ginseng, taurine, and caffeine combining the high energy effects with the mellowing effects of alcohol. Lastly, product placement – let’s see the cast of Twilight enjoying a glass of Chianti with their blood. While these quips are meant to be humorous, the fact remains that there is money to be made marketing wine to the millennial generation and young men.

So, there you have it, the future of the wine business is China and Sex, but not always the two of them at the same time 😉


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

2 comments on “China and Sex Appeal – The Future of Wine

  1. sam klingberg

    first of all, screw china (jk) secondly, i completely dig your pov that wines need to target the millennial generation. it really is about branding, something wine doesn’t really do on a national level.

    even a non-drinker can name off two or three beers without thinking, and they would spend a few minutes googling images for a wine they would even recognize.

    there’s a lot of money sitting on the table.

    1. drinknectar

      Sam – I agree; unfortunately the wine brands that have any name recognition seem to come in a box or a 2 litre bottle

      Thanks for the comment.


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