The southern Chinese city of Guilin is in a predominantly rural area and may seem an unlikely place to be talking about wine appreciation, but a recent holiday there showed how wine is becoming an important product in China.
Firstly though, a bit about Guilin.
The place is famous for its amazing landscapes which have been painted and photographed for centuries. This terrain is also popular with rock climbers who come from all over the world to be challenged by the towering limestone peaks.
About 30 km from Guilin is the amazing Yuzi Paradise sculpture park, where astonishing sculptures of all sizes are scattered around spacious well kept gardens. The sculpture park has progressively evolved into a resort complex of the highest standard, and is now managed by Club Med.
Within the Club Med complex is a wine appreciation school where guests are introduced to all facets of wine – history, types of grapes, wine styles, wine regions and more. And of course there is plenty of wine tasting!
On the day I attended a wine class, I was the only Westerner and apart from the instructor, the only attendee with any real knowledge of wine. The other twenty or so participants were Chinese eager to learn more about wine. It was a fun session.
On another day, I travelled from the resort back to the city of Guilin for a wander around the streets. Guilin is a bustling metropolis of about one million people, with plenty to see and experience.
At one stage I wandered into some back streets and saw this amazing shop:
Unfortunately it was closed for lunch and I was unable to get back, but peering through the window confirmed a wine shop. And right next door to a tailor!
In time I expect this humble little store will move and upgrade to a main road location, but this (together with the enthusiastic wine tasters at Club Med Guilin) show once more how popular wine is becoming in China.