Monday, November 25, 2013

"The Korea Times": Ambassadors pitch 'New World' wine

25.11.2013. Envoys from non-traditional wine-growing countries have gotten aggressive recently trying to attract Korean consumers as wine consumption here is on the rise following a brief sales slump in 2009.

Ambassadors from Argentina and Georgia have been especially active in trying to turn Korean consumers’ attention to so-called “New World” wines.

In a speech at a wine-tasting event at Banyan Tree Hotel in Seoul, Monday, Argentine Ambassador Jorge Roballo claimed that Malbec wine from Argentina has “conquered” the European and North American markets. “Now, Argentine wineries are targeting Asian markets, especially Korea, to increase their market share as Koreans have begun discovering the taste and value of Argentine wines,” the envoy said.

The wine-tasting event was the fifth of its kind held in Seoul. More than 100 people, mostly wine shop owners and importers, were invited to the promotion.

The Argentine event took place weeks before the home of another New World wine, Georgia, is slated to hold a similar event.

The Embassy of Georgia has been working to turn wine-loving Koreans’ attention to his country’s home-grown wines. It plans to hold a wine-tasting event on Dec. 18.

Ambassador Nikoloz Apkhazava said that his embassy will invite any Koreans who are willing to taste Georgian wines to the event.

“We welcome anyone if they are interested in knowing more about Georgian wines. Bring your family members or friends. Anyone will be welcomed,” he said.

Industry experts said there are opportunities and challenges for these New World wines in Korea.

Yoo Mi-rey, a wine shop owner in Seoul, said these emerging wines have drawn keen attention from Korean wine consumers over the past decade. She said the most popular of the “New World” wines in Korea come from Chile. “About 10 years ago, most Koreans were not familiar with wines produced outside of France as the European country has long been considered as home to quality wine,” Yoo said.

“But the situation has changed as cheaper Chilean wines were imported after Korea signed a free-trade pact with the Latin American country in 2004,” she said. “Chilean wines became very popular among Koreans as people learned that the Latin American wines are cheaper, but their quality is as good as that of French wines.”

Wine experts said it’s possible Argentine or Georgian wines could be next New World offerings to rival Chilean wines in popularity here.

Wine consumption in Korea has continued to grow since 2000. According to the Korea International Trade Association, wine imports in 2006 in Korea stood at $88 million. Last year, $147 million in wine was imported from Europe and other areas.

Source (abridged)

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