I hope I never add to a xenophobic strain that is growing across the globe, from Kansas to France.
It seems that politicians will always use the fear of the other to rile up voters, whether that other is from someplace different, acts differently or, in the case of same-sex marriage, simply wants to act as others are allowed to do.
But I suppose we are all capable of irrational fear: I’ll admit that my worry is of Chinese wine.
It’s an unusual concern, I know, but the Chinese have already proven their ability to disrupt the international wine market: the prices of Bordeaux will never be the same after the crazy run-up of the 2009 and 2010 vintages, fueled by the speculation of Chinese collectors.
The wines the Chinese have created up until now have been lackluster at best — yes, there are a few exceptions, but please. Nonetheless the Chinese are determined to grow their wine business, and that growth will inevitably come at the expense of better wines.
Doubtful? The ubiquitous success of Two Buck Chuck long ago convinced me that many consumers are more thrilled at finding cheap wine than they are at consuming a good one.
Chinese wine will likely prove difficult to beat on pricing. A state-controlled command economy can do that, even it is unable to support excellence. While some private Chinese wineries focus upon quality, they are disadvantaged by state-owned or controlled competition.
A decade and a half ago, the Chinese were similarly determined to be a force in beer production — at the time they were 48th in the world. Today they produce more beer than any other country, most of it ho-hum.
They already have achieved the status of number five global producer of wine; they look to double production over the next five years. I fear for the world’s good, not great producers of affordable wine with a flood of humdrum Chinese wine unleashed.
Doug Frost is a Kansas City-based wine and spirits writer and consultant who for decades has happily educated the public about all things drink. He is one of only three people in the world to have earned the coveted titles of master sommelier and master of wine. He contributes a monthly wine column for The Star’s Food section.