Corkscrew and bottle of wine on the board (pic: istock)
China Wine

Survey finds Chinese drinkers’ strong preference for cork closure

According to a recent survey on the top 100 selling wines in China in 2021, 95 out of the 100 wines are overwhelmingly sealed under corks, confirming Chinese wine consumers' strong preference for cork closures.

According to a recent survey on the top 100 selling wines in China in 2021, 95 out of the 100 wines are overwhelmingly sealed under corks, confirming Chinese wine consumers’ strong preference for cork closures.

This survey is commissioned by the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) based on the data garnered and provided by market research firm NielsenIQ. Portugal is the world’s biggest cork producer, providing roughly50% of the global cork supply.

According to the association, the Top 100 best selling wines are compiled based on 2021 retail sales figures of wines garnered from hypermarkets, supermarkets and minimarkets in 24 Chinese cities*.

Corkscrew and bottle of wine on the board (pic: istock)
95 out of China’s top 100 best selling wines are sealed under cork, according to a survey commissioned by Portuguese Cork Association (pic: istock)

With little surprise, the findings confirmed what has always been believed by wineries and merchants that wine drinkers in the country prefer corks over screw caps, as Chinese drinkers associate cork with quality. The remaining five are sealed under aluminum caps.

The top wines on the list straddle a wide range of price points from RMB 22 (US$3.4) all the way to RMB 1570 (US$247), and averages at RMB 202.4 (US$ 31.6) per liter.

The survey also find that the prices for the cork-sealed wines are higher than screw caps. These 95 wines have an average price per liter of RMB 208.51 (US$32.6) comparing with RMB 86.56 (US$13.5) of the five sealed with aluminum caps, the survey finding shows.

Compared with the same survey done by APCOR in 2016, prices for corked-sealed wines have increased from RMB 138.4 (US$21.6) to the current RMB 208.51 (US$32.6).

Chinese wine drinkers overwhelming prefer wines sealed under corks (pic: handout)
Chinese wine drinkers overwhelming prefer wines sealed under corks (pic: handout)

Additionally, the findings from the recent survey showed that 56 of the 100 top selling wines found in China came from domestic wineries, surpassing imported wines.

Some key takeaways:

  • 100% of the 56 domestic wines were sealed with cork closure, while 39 of 44 imported wines (89%) were sealed with cork closure.
  • In terms of sales volume, all the 21 best sellers among these 100 wines use cork stopper, artificial closure is used not until the 22nd
  • In terms of price per liter, all the 10 wines with the highest prices in this survey are closed by cork stopper.

The survey and its findings however did not disclose the full list of the top selling wines.   

Commenting on the survey findings, João Rui Ferreira, Vice Chairman of APCOR, said: “We are very pleased and excited about such strong preference of cork stopper in China. While the survey could only provide a factual description of the top 100 selling wines’ adoption of various types of closures but does not tell us why so, I think we know the reasons behind – Cork stopper is a sign of quality wine, an important element of wine culture and its innate sustainability advocacy finetunes with next generation consumers’ sentiment. I would say our Chinese stakeholders love cork stopper because of ‘all of the above’!” 

Natural cork closures are also said to have a negative carbon balance, according to recent studies conducted by three of the world’s largest auditing companies. A single stopper has a balance of up to – 309 grams of CO2; numbers for sparkling wine stoppers go even higher at up to – 589 grams.

These 24 cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hefei, Wuhan, Changsha, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Shenyang, Harbin, Kunming, Jinan, Tianjin, Shenzhen, Dalian, Fuzhou, Xi’an, Wuxi, Suzhou, Ningbo, Dongguan and Xiamen.

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