Would You Like Hot Water With That Wine?

Next time you are at a restaurant and you see middle aged Chinese people dining, see what they are drinking. Chances are they are sipping on their favourite beverage, hot water. It is commonly known in the restaurant circles that when you see Chinese of this age bracket come into a restaurant, don’t even bother bringing them the wine list or god forbid ice water. Just serve them a cup of hot water and watch them smile with delight and acknowledge with a polite “thank you”. But it would probably surprise you to know that more and more Chinese drink more than hot water as evidenced at the 2014 Bordeaux wines release on Saturday, Oct 4, 2014 at the 39th & Cambie BC liquor store.

If you have ever gone to one of these Bordeaux wine releases, it is an experience probably unique to Metro Vancouver. This event is perfectly suited for the Chinese psyche as many are accustomed to pushing and shoving people out of the way for their cause. Line-ups begin the Friday night prior and if you drove by you would think there is a Black Friday sale going on. But at a liquor store? The Bordeaux wine release does resembles a Black Friday retail frenzy once the store doors open up and the first maximum group of customers are allowed in. Within minutes, all of the highly rated and reasonably priced bottles are snapped up by the case lots from, what I believe to be, the greatest wine region.

When I arrived at 8:30am, there were approximately 70 people ahead of me. Approximately 20 of them lined up over night as evidenced by the comfy chairs they were sitting on. It was interesting to note that of the first 20 people that lined up over night, all were Chinese with the exception of one. I proceeded to then tally up the remainder of people in front of me and determined that 85% of those in front of me were Chinese. Why else would the 39th & Cambie liquor store serve complimentary Chinese baked goods to all those in line.

Surprisingly to most, Chinese people do drink more than hot water. They in fact do drink wine and enjoy drinking the best wine and are willing to pay a lot of money to do so. China is now the largest importer of fine wine on the planet. So what does this say about Chinese people and the products that they like to consume? Chinese people enjoy prestigious luxury brands like Bordeaux wines, as I see the same ratio year after year of Chinese people at the Bordeaux wine release. And with more and more Chinese immigrating to our fine city, marketing to this fast growing segment of our community is becoming a necessity and determining what motivates them will be more challenging than sipping on a nice glass of Chateau Petrus.

– Stewart

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