Asia's Most Wanted Wines

We finish off our look at the world’s favorite wines with a flying visit to the Far East.

In a world where change is constant, rapid and relentless, it’s nice to be able to rely on the lessons tradition can teach us – so it’s appropriate that we finish our series about the world’s most-wanted wines with a look at the Asian market.

Why appropriate? Well, it’s the world’s largest, most populous continent, full of tradition, mystique and mystery and because it’s also the region that wine producers are looking to for the next generation of fine wine buyers.

Ask a producer from pretty much any wine-producing country which region they would like to crack open and the likely answer will be Asia. Many of the countries there share some very attractive traits: a burgeoning middle class, increasing disposable income, and – crucially – a relatively untapped market. That market accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s population and most of them have no preconceptions about wine, so you can see why the marketing people salivate at the very mention of Asia.

But before we start talking about wine in Asia, perhaps we should begin by defining Asia. With a landmass that stretches from the Arctic Circle to south of the equator and stretching more than 5000 miles from Anatolia in Turkey to Cape Dezhnev, less than 100 miles from Alaska, it’s hard to get your head around just how diverse it is. It’s 50-odd countries cover a bewildering range of ethnicities, cultures, religions and societies, so it seems foolish to simply lump them all together and call the result “Asia”.

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Generally, for the purposes of compiling our search data, we at Wine-Searcher tend to refer to Asia as being made up of the major wine markets of east Asia: Singapore, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. That’s a drastic reduction in the number of countries (and people), but those five markets make up the vast majority of wine searches from Asia, so that’s what we’ll be looking at in this article. (Note, searches from India have been excluded because, notwithstanding the huge number of searches we get from that country, no one is really searching for wine; it’s strictly whiskey country.) 

If there is one thing that unites the five markets we’re examining, it’s tradition; all those societies are ones that value tradition highly and that is reflected in the wine choices, too – if you’re not from Bordeaux, beat it.

Asia’s Most Wanted Wines on Wine-Searcher:

That’s quite a vote of confidence in Bordeaux and its top wines. The First Growths hold five of the top six places and only the region’s sudden upsurge in love for the second wine of Lynch-Bages in the past 12 months breaks up the Premier Cru dominance. It’s no coincidence that, apart from the almost obligatory Petrus presence, the list is effectively a compilation of the Left Bank’s greatest hits.

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But times of crisis can inspire changes in behavior and surely this current global upheaval will have altered buyers’ habits. Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

Asia’s Most Wanted Wines in April on Wine-Searcher:

Hah! Not a chance. Only the arrival of Dom Pérignon in place of Echo changes anything (and isn’t it curious how the pandemic and the subsequent social distancing measures have only increased Dom’s already outrageous popularity?), but essentially the lists are identical, give or take an almost inevitable dip in interest for Haut-Brion.

Looking at the most-wanted lists for our four largest markets – the US, Europe, UK and Asia – it’s interesting how the number of Bordeaux wines on the respective lists pan out. The US has four, Europe has seven (six in April), the UK seven (five in April) and Asia either nine or 10, depending on which timescale you use. One thing becomes abundantly clear: the more tightly bound by tradition a market is, the more it turns to Bordeaux.

There’s probably a lesson in that somewhere.



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