UK wine school tar­gets con­nois­seurs in HK

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By CECILY LIU in London cecily.liu@ mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

The United King­dom’s largest in­sti­tu­tion for teach­ing skills in the wine and spir­its field has an­nounced it is set­ting up its first ever in­ter­na­tional branch in­HongKong to sup­port China’s surg­ing de­mand for wine knowl­edge.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts said the move comes as China’s in­ter­est in wine and spir­its is mov­ing from so­cial drink­ing to­ward con­nois­seur­ship.

The London-based Wine and Spirit Ed­u­ca­tion Trust said onTues­day it­sHongKong of­fice, which opens in Novem­ber, would al­low Chi­nese stu­dents to have their ex­ams marked lo­cally. WSETcur­rently of­fers classes to Chi­nese stu­dents through ac­cred­ited schools in China.

In the 2015/16 aca­demic year, a to­tal of 13,141 can­di­dates took its ex­ams in China, a 38 per­cent year-on-year growth.

WSET al­ready has 135 ac­cred­ited course providers in China, in­clud­ing the China sub­sidiary of Berry Rudd, a high-end wine mer­chant.

China’s to­tal bot­tled wine im­ports value in 2015 grew by 37 per­cent year-on-year to reach $1.9 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to cus­toms data.

Mean­while, wine mer­chants say Chi­nese buyers are in­creas­ingly ed­u­cated and so­phis­ti­cated in their tastes. Bros & London

“Wine drink­ing in China is no longer about Chateau Lafite Roth­schild, Chi­nese con­sumers are now more knowl­edge­able about ex­cit­ing niche mar­ket wines,” said To­bi­asGorn, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the London-based wine and whiskey agency Camp­bell and Gorn.

Gorn, who has sold wines and whiskeys to Chi­nese cus­tomers for 10 years, said Chi­nese buyers “have a thirst for knowl­edge”, adding the WSET qual­i­fi­ca­tion’s Bri­tish brand ap­peal boosts its pop­u­lar­ity in China.

Gorn’s views are echoed by Charles Ma­cLean, a con­sul­tant for sev­eral whiskey brands in China.

“Chi­nese con­sumers now un­der­stand wine and whiskey is not about gan­bei (toast­ing). They now take time to smell and taste the drink, to ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Gan­bei is the Chi­nese for “cheers”, trans­lated lit­er­ally as “empty the glass”.

Ma­cLean said China’s fast wine mar­ket growth is cre­at­ing a huge num­ber of jobs for wine mer­chants and som­me­liers, of whom many look to WSET for qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

WSET had 72,171 stu­dents in the 2015/16 aca­demic year, with China over­tak­ing the United States to be­come the sec­ond-largest group, just be­hind the UK. WSET’s cour­ses first be­came avail­able to Chi­nese stu­dents in 2006.

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