Alcohol

Chinese Turning Cash Into Wine

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While reports of wine speculation in China and elsewhere are nothing new, this story in Singapore's Business Times is the first report I've come across since the Hong Kong Wine Exchange launched last month.

The practice of speculating on wine has become particularly popular in China. And what it reveals is an interesting encapsulation of many elements of the business climate that we often read about in stories on China.

Many affluent Chinese—worried about rising inflation, a roller-coaster stock market, and restrictions on real estate investment—are looking to alternative assets. Wine, a status symbol for new millionaires, is a hot choice.

[…]

One problem for China's investors, says [Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50 Index James] Miles, has been difficulty in selling their wine. Two local ventures may help.

One is the Hong Kong Wine Exchange, launched in October, a trading platform that allows member- collectors to buy and sell globally through the company's network of wine storage partners.

The other is the just- opened Shanghai International Wine Exchange, organised by the local government to be a bridge between investors and suppliers.

[…] The Shanghai exchange promises to filter out counterfeits and check documentation on provenance.

Since eliminating taxes on wine in February 2008, Hong Kong has become Asia's wine hub, with auction totals surpassing London and New York.

Fascinating–affluence, markets, entrepreneurship, state-run enterprises, taxes, and countereit products in just a few sentences–though I've no larger social statement to make beyond that. I just found the article interesting, and also thought it might provide me with a nice segue into pitching Matt Welch's thorough dissection in the December issue of Reason of the penchant of New York Times columnists to gush over Chinese (and other) authoritarianism.

Baylen Linnekin is the director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and increasing "culinary freedom," the right of all Americans to grow, sell, prepare and eat foods of their own choosing. To join or learn more about the group's activities, go hereTo follow Keep Food Legal on Twitter, go here; to follow Linnekin, go here.