If wine sales are still a developing business in China, the practise of wine criticism is in its infancy.
“Normal people listen to their friends. They don't really understand the vocabulary of wine criticism,“ says Li Demei, wine consultant and a professor at Beijing agriculture University.
That has been a challenge for Hans Qu, China's first sommelier. A chance promotion from hotel bartender to wine steward 12-years ago “changed my life“, he says. “I liked everything ... I felt really excited [that] I was going to do this for the rest of my life.“
But the people taking Mr Qu's courses on wine appreciation are more likely to be sales representatives trying to get their tongues around strange foreign terms than wine consumers. “I don't feel consumers like advice from sommeliers or experts. My feeling is still that they look at the budget. Advice plays only a small part in their consideration.“
Several years ago Mr Qu ... felt angered at wine importers who made astronomical margins on Chinese buyers' eagerness to spend. Now he is more worried about imported wines being sold cheaply.
“Imagine a Spanish wine for Rmb9.90 ($1.50 a bottle), or Rmb19.90 or Rmb29.90. I wouldn't drink that,“ he says, “I don't know what's inside.“
A similar sense of indignation inspired Jim Boyce, Chinese wines' greatest cheerleader. His Grape Wall of China blog promotes the best of the country's wines.
Foreign journalists arriving China before the 2008 Olympics provoked his ire. “A lot of people started talking about fake wine, or mixing Coke with Lafitte, and I thought, that's not what I am seeing. There was all this negative press.
“Now it's almost gone the other way. There are too many overly optimistic expectations.“
Fazit: Die Trinkkultur in China befindet sich im Wandel.