The nose knows as wines are put to Chinese taste test

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am

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Bordeaux in France or Spain's Rioja region - which produces the best wine for the Chinese palate and cuisine? That was the question dozens of local connoisseurs attempted to answer yesterday in one of the city's largest blind wine-tasting events.

More than 1,000 glasses of wine - chosen from hundreds of wineries in 25 countries - were presented to 40 connoisseurs tasked to pick the ones that best fit the Chinese market at the China Wine Awards.

Each of the judges - wine wholesalers, retailers and restaurant managers - had to try 35 wines in seven rounds throughout the day. They rated each sample in terms of look, smell and taste, and then matched them with the most suitable type of Chinese cuisine - including Guangdong, Beijing and Sichuan dishes.

All the bottles of red, white and sparkling wines, costing between HK$110 and HK$3,300 per bottle, had their labels covered up. Spain and France accounted for the highest number of wines tested.

Chinese drinkers generally preferred rich wines, local wholesaler Defranco Leung said. But each city had its own preference. People in Xiamen in Fujian province liked sweet wines, while those further south went for drier ones, wine producer Nikolas Prehn said.

Having imported 260 million litres of wine in 2010, a volume which would fill 690 swimming pools, China remains a top target of wineries. It is the largest importer of Bordeaux wines, but demand from other parts of Europe, and from Australia and New Zealand, is growing.