Beverage: An educated tipple

Wine and Gourmet Taipei takes place this weekend at Taiwan World Trade Center, Hall 3

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - Page 11

Now in its third year, Wine and Gourmet Taipei is set to be the biggest professional wine show in Taiwan. Last year’s event attracted over 10,000 people to a show focused specifically on wine from around the world, and catering both to the food and beverage industry as well as Taiwan’s growing number of well-informed and increasingly discerning drinkers.

Estimates by the Customs Administration, Ministry of Finance (財政部關稅局) show a 10 percent growth in wine imports from 2011 to 2012, with an estimated figure in excess of 20 million liters for 2012. Datamonitor Industry Market Research forecast that wine imports into Taiwan to be worth US$480 million in 2013, and figures from International Wine & Spirit Research has seen a 30 percent increase in expenditure on wine by Taiwanese every year for the last three years. All of this suggests not just a growing market, but one with increasingly high expectations.

The three-day event opens today, an invitation-only day directed toward F&B professionals. It will be open to the public tomorrow and Sunday. According to Vivi Wang (王淑薇), project manager for the event, Wine and Gourmet targets both business-to-business and general consumer interest. While the first day will mostly be about discussing distribution deals, the weekend will be dedicated to introducing a huge range of wines to the general public. An important part of the show will be the series of master classes hosted by respected wine writers and sommeliers introducing the finer aspects of wine appreciation to wine aficionados.

Wang said the market in Taiwan had reached a level where it was no longer simply about providing product. “It’s not about just bringing in different types of wine, it is now also about finding new types of enjoyment through wine,” she said, highlighting the fact that this year a focus of the show will be on the issue of “terroir,” the idea that characteristics of geography, geology and climate of a certain place interact with the grapes to create a unique product that cannot be replicated in any other location.

“Taiwan is one of the fifth largest wine importers in Asia,” Wang told the Taipei Times, adding that currently its import volume is on a par with its much larger neighbor across the Strait. “Taiwan has many small wine importers,” she said, “and they have been importing wine from overseas for over 30 years. This means that the market has had time to develop some depth.”

The sophistication of Taiwan’s wine market meant that there was considerable potential for smaller vineyards, and also for wine producers from non-mainstream wine producing exporters such as Slovenia, a country that, Wang said, has generated considerable interest among local distributors.

Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health.