With domestic consumption of wine halved in France since the 1950s, the world's number one wine producer has turned to emerging market exports as its savior.
But while the Chinese and Indians have been feted at this year's Vinexpo wine trade show, the world's largest, some attendees warn against both in preference to Russia.
"The margins in China are not there. It is not ready to buy at the price point where wine producers will make money," said David Skalli, a Paris-based wine consultant with family vineyards in France, California and Italy.
In India, said Skalli, the market is growing by 30 percent, but "per head consumption in India is about one teaspoon." He added that the biggest barriers are duties, about 300 percent, and logistics.
Duties are to come down to 150 percent by the end of the year, but distribution and wine understanding remain difficulties.
Bordeaux winemaker Bernard Magrez agreed about being careful in China, having owned a vineyard there for 10 years. "I have done China," he said. "I was there starting from 1991 and I did not make a profit."
Magrez, who was in Russia for many years with his wine and spirits business, William Pitters, shut up shop when he sold the business in 2005. Now, despite his reservations, he will soon start again with a new distribution partner. A good partner, he stresses, is the key.
Skalli also favors Russia over any other emerging market. "For one thing," he said, "the food is European in style .... Chinese food is not made to go with wine, and nor is Indian at the moment."
WARNING: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your halth. 飲酒過量有害健康