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What do Chinese wine consumers really think?

 

Wine Intelligence China Team shares five key challenges they faced in their latest projects in China at a recent MRS event

Distilling 4 years of experience working in China into a 40 minute lecture was never going to be easy. Yet this was the challenge set us by the UK Market Research Society (MRS) a couple of weeks ago, when they invited us to address our fellow market research professionals in a session entitled “In Vino Veritas? The challenges of finding out what the Chinese really think about wine”.

After a healthy debate among the Wine Intelligence China market team, we settled on five key challenges that we have faced in recent projects. Here they are:

1. The real China is a complex cultural mosaic
The extent to which Chinese people are different from each other is tough to grasp from an occidental perspective – at least at first. The complexity of the country in terms of its cuisines, languages, climates, economic layers, culture, and lifestyle becomes apparent with time spent in the country, and away from the Tier 1 cities. Hangzhou is not like Harbin, which is very different from Chengdu. So which is the real China? It’s a bit like flying from Bremen to Barcelona, and having to decide, between those two cities, which represents the real Europe – a decision both impossible and pointless.

 
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Red wine is good for you!

A natural ingredient found in red wine, resveratrol, can help fight off diseases associated with age, a new study shows.
Resveratrol, found in the skin of grapes, has long been touted for its anti-ageing properties.
Researchers are studying this natural compound to help them design better anti-aging drugs.
They think it works by increasing the activity of sirtuins, a family of proteins found throughout the body, which are believed to combat diseases related to getting older, like type 2 diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer’s. Specifically, resveratrol increases the activity of SIRT1, which acts to make our mitochondria — the cell part that turns food into energy in our cells — more efficient, the study says.
The direct link between resveratrol and the SIRT1 protein has been made before, both by the lead author of this latest paper, Harvard genetics professor David Sinclair, and others.
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Of all the health-related questions that end up in the Wine Spectator electronic mailbag, some get asked with a you-can-set-your-watch-by-it type of regularity. We’ve answered them before, and we’ll answer them again, but I thought I’d address these topics here with the help of Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, professor of enology at the University of California at Davis, to weigh in on the three most enduring topics.

Health Myth No. 1: Wine contains a lot of sugar

It’s easy to see where this theory may have started. Grapes have sugar. Wine is made from grapes. Therefore, all wine has sugar? Not so. “If a wine is considered dry, the amount of sugar consumed is quite small,” said Waterhouse. The fermentation process for dry wines eliminates almost all the sugar and converts it to alcohol.

Let’s go to the data: The USDA Nutrition Database lists the amount of sugar in a 5-ounce serving of red table wine at just 0.91 grams. Not to pick on orange juice, but an average 8-ounce serving of the stuff contains 20.9 grams of sugar, so 5 ounces of orange juice contains nearly 14 times as much sugar as the same amount of dry red wine.

However, if you’re a diabetic looking to understand how alcohol affects your blood sugar levels, that’s an entirely different question complicated by the rest of your diet, activity levels and insulin therapy. Even medical practitioners have divided outlooks here: Waterhouse pointed out that in the United States, the convention has been to discourage diabetic patients from drinking, but not so in the United Kingdom. (Recent research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption, which can temporarily lower blood sugar levels, is associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes.) If you’re concerned about how wine affects your blood sugar levels, you should talk to your doctor to find the best approach for you.

Health Myth No. 2: Sulfites in wine cause headaches

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