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Australian wine critic sees the future in China

Updated: 2016-06-21 10:40
By Mike Peters (China Daily)

Australian wine critic sees the future in China

Australian wine critic Jeremy Oliver and his 2016 edition of The Australian Wine Annual. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In 2008, Australia's Jeremy Oliver became the first Western wine critic to create a book especially for the Chinese audience with the publication of Enjoy Wine with Jeremy in Mandarin. Besides radio and television appearances, he is best-known for The Australian Wine Annual, now in its 18th year and produced in Chinese since 2012. Oliver was recently in China for the release of the current edition and to host several wine tastings. He chatted with China Daily's Mike Peters about the wine market in China today.

What prompted you to publish your guide in Chinese?

Over the past 16 years, I've visited the country close to 60 times-the first time at the American club in Beijing. Before that I had been in Japan and Singapore, but I had not given China much thought. Once I was here, I realized this was the place to invest time and experience to help people develop their own wine cultures.

What forms does that take?

Besides writing a book in Chinese, we do Enjoy Wine with Jeremy on video platforms of online television in China. My cohost translates as I share how to match wines with Chinese viewers' own regional cuisines and cuisines they discover, whether European or regional Chinese cuisines. We're also setting up a WeChat account to answer questions in real time.

How do Chinese see Australian wines?

Chinese have a natural friendliness toward Australian things and people, because we are open and approachable. They see Australia as green, pure, unpolluted. Food products are made to a high standard and safe.

There is also a historical connection: Chinese have been a big part of the fabric of Australian society since the gold rush. We are two countries that understand eachother.

Looking in the other direction, what is your sense of the Chinese wine industry?

China needs legislation to relate what's on the label to what's in the bottle-labels here don't tell enough. Now there is also an anticipated sameness about Chinese wine-and they often are.

I don't have a complete picture, but quality and labeling still needs to catch up with production. The emergence of a real wine culture will make the industry fly. I sense a lot of curiosity, but not much trust. After trust will come pride.

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