84 Australian Wine Business
Australian wines in China.
Wine with lemonade: is the myth a reality?
School of Agriculture,
Food and Wine,
The University of Adelaide, 5064
School of Agriculture,
Food and Wine
School of Agriculture,
Food and Wine
School of Agriculture,
Food and Wine
School of Agriculture,
Food and Wine
The Australian wine industry is currently characterised by
an excess supply of grapes, international and domestic retail
consolidation and relatively stagnant domestic wine consumption
which has lead to decreasing profitability for Australian wine
businesses (Hobley & Batt 2005; Deloitte & WFA, 2006).
A potential ‘remedy’ for this situation is finding new export
markets, with China presenting itself as a possible destination for
Australian wine. Indicative is the fact that the volume of Australian
wine exported to China has increased approximately fourfold,
with value having more than doubled, in the short period from
February 2006 to October 2006, while at the same time value per
litre has almost halved (as shown in Table 1). Therefore greater
quantities of lower value wine are being exported to China with
bulk wine representing approximately 78% of exports by volume
at $0.65 per litre in the year to October 2006 (AWBC 2006a).
The consumption of wine in China is miniscule compared with
the consumption of beer and spirits. Wittwer & Rothfield (2006)
note that Chinese people consumed 21 litres of beer, 3.1 litres of
spirits but a meagre 0.2 litres of wine in 2003. Armitage (2006),
China’s Growing Thirst For Foreign Wine (2004) and Knott (2004)
attribute the relatively low consumption of wine to low levels of
wine knowledge among Chinese alcohol consumers and state
that wine education is needed to boost consumption levels.
However, an increasing level of wine consumption is being lead
by the positive health connotations of wine (Levin 2004, Vertume
International 2004, Guinand 2005) and the influence of Western
cultural practices (Wine in China 2000, Chinese wine sector
attracts growing interest (2004).
In terms of wine preference, Regan (2000), Dewald (2003),
Guinand (2006) and China’s Growing Thirst For Foreign Wine
(2004) note that Chinese wine consumers prefer fruity red wine
styles with a degree of sweetness as opposed to dry, tannic wine
styles or white wine styles. Chinese wine consumers partake in
a number of wine consumption practices that are different to
Western cultural norms. It is noted by Jun (2003) and Guinand
(2005) that Chinese wine consumers prefer to “down” a glass of
wine in one fell swoop and that they also have a preference for
red wine and lemonade cocktails.
The phenomenon of mixing red wine with lemonade has
been attributed to the former Chinese premier Li Peng who
partook in the practice in the 1990s (Regan 2000). The reason
for undertaking such a practice has been attributed to the wish
to make red wine sweeter (Regan 2000; Guinand 2005) with
China’s Growing Thirst For Foreign Wine (2004) attributing the
practice due to consumers’ tastes and wine knowledge being in
a developmental stage. Much of the literature regarding the wine/
lemonade phenomenon is anecdotal in nature with commentators
discussing incidences where Chinese wine consumers have
partaken in this practice. Zhao (2003) discusses the story of
bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild being opened and poured
into jugs and subsequently topped up with lemonade and Regan
(2000) recounts the story of young, “trendy” Chinese men and
women meeting in bars and sipping cocktails made of red wine
and lemonade. However there is a scarcity of research-based
information as to whether the red wine/ lemonade style of wine
is preferred by Chinese wine consumers. This study aimed to
provide such information.
Table 1. Volume, value and value per litre of Australian wine exported to China,
MAT (Moving Annual Totals) February to October 2006.
Month MAT Volume (litres) MAT Value (AUD$) Value per litre (AUD$)
February 2006 4,247,594 13,807,400 3.24
October 2006 16,771,737 28,134,492 1.68
To successfully increase both the quantity and quality of
wine exported to China, Australian wine businesses require a
better understanding of market entry strategies, supply chain
management and other market characteristics such as consumer
preferences. However, there is little primary research data
available in the public domain regarding Chinese preferences
and behavioural characteristics related to wine consumption.
This exploratory study examined such characteristics of Chinese-
born wine consumers residing in South Australia providing some
insights into Chinese wine-related behaviour.
Anecdotal evidence points to the Chinese phenomenon of
mixing wine and carbonated soft drinks, in particular the mixing
of red wine and lemonade and a preference for sweet wines. This
study aimed to substantiate whether there was a preference for
these styles of wine and whether Chinese consumers prefer other
styles of wine that are produced in Australia. The information
provides an insight into the Chinese wine consumer to aid wine
producers in adjusting their marketing strategies and in particular
new product development for the Chinese market.
chinese wine market
Australian Wine Business 85
Methods and materials
Sensory evaluation of wine was performed as part of this
study. The sensory evaluation was run in conjunction with a focus
group study with 36 Chinese-born participants now residing in
Adelaide, South Australia, participating in sensory evaluation
sessions. Chinese-born participants were used in this study as it
was deemed a cost-effective method for examining Chinese wine
preference (as opposed to costly research in China) and as most
participants had resided in Australia for a considerable period
of time (See Table 2) it was of interest to observe whether their
ethnic behavioural traits had been retained.
This study revealed numerous observations of interest
regarding Chinese wine consumer preferences. Of particular
interest was the preference for sweet wine styles over dry styles.
Figure 2 exhibits a chart of wine preference versus the
residual sugar content of the wines. Despite the small number
of observations (n=36) the line of best fit (linear in Figure 2)
illustrates that as the residual sugar level in the wines increased,
Further statistical analysis in the form of regression analysis
was performed to observe how the independent variable of
sweetness influenced the dependent variable which was the wine
Under 45 year-old males 3
Over 45 year-old males 30
Under 45 year-old females 8
Over 45 year-old females 13
Table 2. Study participants average years residing in Australia
As reflected in Table 2, study participants were segmented
into 4 groups based on sex and age. The groups are listed below.
• Under 45 year-old males
• Over 45 year-old males
• Under 45 year-old females
• Over 45 year-old females
14 wines were presented to the participants in 4 brackets
including still, sparkling and fortified wines and a bracket of red
wine mixed with lemonade in varying concentrations (see Tables
3 and 4). All the wines were commercially available at the time
of the study and were chosen because of their varying levels of
Participants were then asked to taste each wine and indicate
their liking of the wine on a 9-point hedonic scale sheet as
exhibited in Figure 1.
R/S Wine Type/Styles
< 3 g/l Cabernet Sauvignon
< 3 g/l Sangiovese
3 g/l Riesling
10 g/l Rosé
19 g/l Riesling
30 g/l Riesling
30 g/l Rosé
117 g/l Moscato
150 g/l Muscat
Table 3. Wine types/styles evaluated by study participants. R/S = residual sugar
Table 4. Red wine/lemonade mixed wines and sparkling red wine evaluated by
100% Dry Red Wine
75% Dry Red Wine, 25% Lemonade
50% Dry Red Wine, 50% Lemonade
25% Dry Wine, 75% Lemonade
Sparkling Red Wine
Fig. 1. Example of a 9-point hedonic scale
Dislike Extremely Dislike Moderately Neither Like nor Dislike Like Moderately Like Extremely
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
Residual Sugar (g/l)
Wine preference vs Residual Sugar Level
Linear (Wine preference vs Residual Sugar Level)
Fig. 2. Wine preference vs residual sugar levels
Table 5. Regression Analysis results on sensory evaluation data
Group Sweet Beta Coefficient
Under 45 yr-old males 1.750**
Over 45 yr-old males .538
Under 45 yr-old females 1.740**
Over 45 yr-old females .850*
** p<.01 *p<.05
The results of the regression analysis are shown in Table 5.
For the purpose of regression analysis a dummy variable of
“sweet” was assigned to all of the wines that had a perceptible
level of residual sugar. The results in Table 5 show that there was
generally a statistically significant increase in preference when
participants evaluated sweet wines. For example, when male
participants under the age of 45 years evaluated sweet wines,
an average increase of 1.75 in the hedonic scale was awarded.
chinese wine market
86 Australian Wine Business
“We are not a broker, we will trade directly
with your winery minimising your export risk”
If you have any bulk wine you wish to
sell, please contact:
South Australian Ofﬁ ce:
Andrew Cudmore M.B.A.
Ph: 08 8239 2499
Fax: 08 8239 2899
Victorian Ofﬁ ce:
Roland Kaval B.Sc(Hons). B. Appl.Sc.
Ph: 03 5368 9583
Fax: 03 5368 9613
However, there was no statistically significant increase (p>.05) in
preference for sweet wines by the over 45 year male group.
The results also illustrate that participants under 45 years of
age awarded higher preference for sweet wines than over 45
year-old participants. The lower preference for sweet wine by
the older participants may be due in part to the effect of ageing
whereby perceptions of sweetness diminish with age as noted
by Cunningham & Brookbank (1998), Whyche (2004) and Katz
(2005). The results may also be due to the effect of acculturation
whereby the older participants prefer a more dry, Western style of
wine as they have resided in Australia for a longer period of time
than the younger participants as shown in Table 2. This rationale
may account for the over 45 year males’ regression results that
showed no statistically significant increase (p>.05) in preference
for sweet wines, with this group having resided in Australian for
an average of 30 years (see Table 2).
The study also involved the evaluation of a bracket of dry
red wine/ lemonade mixed wines. The results of this bracket’s
preferences are shown in Figure 3.
increased sweetness. Included in this study’s sensory evaluation
was an Australian sparkling red wine and fortified wine style.
Participants awarded a preference score of 5.7 and 6.5 (out of a
possible 9) for the sparking red wine style and fortified wine style
respectively indicating a liking for these two wine styles.
Sensory evaluation data from this study exhibited a number
of clear wine style preferences for people of Chinese ethnicity.
Of major interest was an overwhelming preference for sweet
wine styles over dry wine styles. Preference for sweeter styles
was found to diminish with age, eg. younger study participants
awarded higher preference scores for sweet wine styles than
older participants, showing an aging effect confounded with
an acculturation effect, as older participants in our sample also
had resided in Australia for a longer period of time. This added
some weight to the theory that people residing in China would
prefer sweet wine styles. A preference for sparkling red and
fortified wine styles was observed in addition to a preference
for higher concentration lemonade mixed wines thus uncovered
that consuming wine with lemonade is therefore not a myth for
persons of Chinese ethnicity. Fortified wine styles were preferred,
in consistence with the finding that Chinese consumers are
accustomed to higher alcohol products exhibited in their high
level of spirit consumption (Australian spirit consumption 2004:
1.2 litre per capita, China spirit consumption 2004: 3.1 litre per
capita, (Wittwer and Rothfield 2006)).
The results of this study have shown that participants
preferred sweet wine styles. However further studies with larger
sample sizes should investigate the optimal preferred level of
residual sugar in terms of wine preference. A preference for red
wine mixed with lemonade was observed. Examination of the
optimal lemonade concentration in mixed red wine/ lemonade
wine styles should be performed in further research. Any change
in colour and carbonation in the resulting wines and subsequent
changes in preference should be noted. Confirmatory research
regarding the preference for sparkling red wine styles and fortified
wine styles could be performed in China with particular emphasis
on the effect that tannin and astringency of sparkling red wine
and alcohol content of fortified wine have on preference.
Of significant interest to Australian wine producers is the
preference for the sparkling red and fortified wine styles found
in our sample. These two wine styles are not overly popular
amongst Australian wine consumers (in 2005-06, fortified wine
and sparkling wine consumption account for 4% and 9% of total
wine sales respectively in Australia (AWBC 2006d)) therefore
an opportunity may exist in the Chinese export market for
these wine styles. Also as a preference for sweeter wine styles
rather that dry styles was observed, Australian wine producers
wishing to export their products to the Chinese market may
need to adjust their product strategies to satisfy these consumer
preferences. An example of such a product strategy is a red
wine/lemonade mixed wine, packaged in an aluminium can for
the Chinese ready to drink (RTD) market.
Sweetness in wine is related to grape ripeness, and Australia
is climatically well placed to produce grapes with high sugar
Fig. 3. All Groups preference for red wine/ lemonade mixed wines
100% Wine 75% Wine, 25%
50% Wine, 50%
25% Wine, 75%
The results revealed that the study participants preferred
the higher concentration lemonade wines over the lower
concentration wines and the mixed wine/lemonade style over
the straight dry red wine styles (p<.01). A trained sensory panel
was used to gauge the effect that lemonade additions had on
dry red wine sensory characteristics. The panel concluded that
the addition of lemonade reduced bitterness, astringency and
chinese wine market
Australian Wine Business 87
content, therefore it is economically and environmentally
unproblematic to achieve the production of these styles of wine
in Australia and hence satisfying Chinese demand.
Simon Somogyi is a PhD Student and holder of the CJ
Everard Scholarship in the Discipline of Agri-food and Wine
Business, The University of Adelaide. He can be contacted on
8303 3660, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Corporation, Kent Town.
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Corporation, Kent Town.
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and Brandy Corporation, Kent Town.
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Wine, women and profit
“The women’s market is not an add-on; it is your biggest
potential market,” Steven Howard, of Howard Marketing, told the
MasterCard Wine Food and Travel Summit at Margaret River last
November. “Consumer spending is two-thirds of the economy.
Women make 85% of consumer buying decisions; in addition
most business buyers are women,” he said. “Women buy 75
percent of the wine and consume 60 percent of it. This presents
a real market opportunity.”
“The baby boomer generations (1946-64) will see the largest
transfer of wealth in history. The average female baby boomer will
be widowed at 67 and live for a further 15 – 18 years. In the US,
30 percent of women earn more than their husbands. Women
earn 57 percent of college degrees; 40 percent of MBAs and 50
percent of law graduates are female.”
He said female baby boomers spend much of their wealth on
travel, family and entertainment. Unlike previous generations they
are not concerned in passing on wealth to the next generation.
While the US leads, Asia is not far behind. East Asia has the
highest ratio of female to male workers (87:100) found anywhere
in the world. “In Singapore parents often live in the same
apartment building, providing a built-in free baby-sitting service.
Therefore they can travel. Women account for 40 percent of
travellers in Asia making 64 million individual trips annually.”
“Asset- rich baby boomers are outliving men. Rising living
standard in Asia has enabled a shift from necessities to
discretionary expenditure. Asian women have $US385 billion
discretionary buying power, which will growth to $US518 by
2014.” MasterCard lifestyle survey showed three-quarters of
women consider travel an important aspect of their lifestyle and
37% took an overseas holiday last year.
“Asian women are dedicated shoppers. It is their first preferred
destination activity. Marketing to women is the most significant
and profitable opportunity in marketing today,” he said. “But to
be successful you must understand the difference between men
“These differences are real and particularly impact on the
way you communicate to them. Men get closer by doing things
together, women by talking and providing information for each
other. Women want information from personal sources, men from
impersonal sources. Men are competitive, only a man could have
dreamed up Robert Parker’s 100 point system for wine.”
Research has shown that for women a glass of wine at the
end of the day is a reward, not a stress relief after a manic day.
Packaging for women should reflect the real woman. Howard
also warned against dumbing down, saying that women’s role
models have more brains than glitz.
“Don’t go pink,” said Howard. “Girly packaging won’t help
sell your product. The girlfriend factor is important. Don’t show
women on their own in adverts – show a group of women
enjoying themselves together with your product. The depth and
meaning of a woman’s friendships are among the most treasured
in her life, so emphasis sharing.”
Women’s experience of the cellar door is poor, but women are
more likely than men to purchase the same brand of wine later.
“Winery websites aimed at women should provide information,
information, information.” Howard said cellar doors should
consider having a ‘Girls Night Out’ bin.
Other ideas Howard expressed include, wine and food
matching suggestions, tips for cooking with wine, E-coupons and
gift vouchers, and suggestions for gifts.
“The women’s market is not a niche market; it offers vast
potential to marketers who understand that gender differences
are important.” Pursuing this market can lead to greater customer
loyalty, lots of referrals and higher profit margins as a result.
chinese wine market