VINISUD Asia: Mediterranean Wines are Looking to Conquer China


The first exhibition of VINISUD Asia, which is an International Mediterranean Wine & Spirits Exhibition dedicated to wine professionals, took place in Shanghai from Tuesday 26th to Thursday 28th February 2013.






Since its creation in 1994, Vinisud has been held every two years in the South of France in Montpellier and has been successful. According to Fabrice Rieu, CEO of Vinisud, this trade show is now among the “Top 4” of world wine exhibitions and the idea of

“organizing a Vinisud exhibition in mainland China in Shanghai every two years with the exhibition in Montpellier (February 24-26 2014), like Vinexpo in Bordeaux and Hong Kong» is aimed to “attract new buyers and to expand new markets (source: Vinisud, 2012). For Mediterranean wines, which represent the “world’s leading wine region with more than 50% of world output”

(source: Vinisud Asia, 2013)

China has become a target market and is already the first client (in value and the 3rd  client in volume) regarding wines from Languedoc-Roussillon with the AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) label (source: French Customs, 2012).

This first exhibition at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC, Hall N5, Pudong district) was organized by Adhesion Asia Ltd (Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC Media group) and its co-organizer Huamao International Exhibition (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. (CCPIT Shanghai), and was supported by many institutional and media partners. What conclusions can we draw from this first exhibition?



A greater number of visitors than expected

The number of trade visitors at Vinisud Asia over the 3 days was higher than the 4000 visitors expected by Adhesion Asia: 3000 visitors pre-registered and 1567 visitors attended the exhibition for the opening day on Tuesday 26th, 2285 on Wednesday 27th and 1334 for the closing day on Friday 28th, i.e. 5186 visitors over the 3 days according to Olivier Darras, Managing Director of Adhesion Asia. Mr Darras emphasized that the objective of this exhibition “was to select only wine professionals instead of gathering a great number of visitors” (source: Vinisud Asia, 2013).


Exhibitors are globally satisfied but business potential to be confirmed

More than 320 exhibitors attended Vinisud Asia to show their wine production from vineyards located in the South of France (Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence, Rhône Valley, Corsica) or in other countries close to the Mediterranean Sea (Spain – Rioja, Portugal, Sicily, Greece, Moldavia, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). Globally, they were satisfied as they met many Chinese wine professionals and even until the last moment on the closing day for most of them. However, it seems difficult to assess the impact on sales in the short-term. Like for every wine exhibition with trade visitors, a follow-up is required in order to get new clients. Business potential to be confirmed…

But the exhibitors were a bit disappointed because they had no access to wifi whereas most of them had planned to use QR Codes to give access to the datasheets of wines to Chinese visitors in order to take into account their consumption behaviour regarding smartphones.

Wine in China

Visitors attended all the events, but there is a need to optimize Master Classes

Among all the events planned at Vinisud Asia, 12 Master Classes were programmed (mostly in parallel sessions) on topics related to red, white and rosé wines produced in the South of France (Languedoc, Roussillon, Provence, Rhône Valley, Corsica) or in other countries near the Mediterranean Sea (Sicilian wines, The wine in Crete).

The main key factors of success for a better knowledge transfer about wine to Chinese professionals are presented below on the basis of my participation to 8 Master Classes as well as discussions with French and Chinese wine professionals.

Choice of the speaker: preferably œnologists and sommeliers. Master Classes lead by these experts like Olivier Poussier (World’s Best Sommelier 2000) were fully booked as diplomas and prizes are usually very valuable for Chinese people. As for the Master Classes lead by managers of Wine Interprofessional Committees, there is a need to explain the role of these Committees and the role of the managers within these Committees. Moreoever, these managers could present the Master Class with at least a well-known winemaker from the region as the Chinese give usually more value to the family history of the winemaker than to the speech of a sales manager, for example. We would make the same recommendation to select the booth staff.

Spoken Language: Master Classes in French appeared to be confusing for participants despite the translation in Chinese (Mandarin). There were questions like “What does domaine mean?”, “What does vignoble mean?”. Therefore, Master Classes in English with a translation in Mandarin would be easier to understand even if knowledge of the English vocabulary related to the wine industry is to be improved (e.g. “What does vineyard mean?”). Consequently, a bilingual glossary in English and Chinese of the basic vocabulary about wine production, wine tasting, and also about French appellations and wine institutions (like INAO) could be useful for Chinese professionals. This glossary would help them better understand the French wine market, given that most participants were quite young (core target between 25-35 years on average).

PowerPoint presentation: preferably in English (instead of French) and in Mandarin for the same reasons as mentioned above.

Content of the presentation:

–          Historical context: try to explain the History of the wine region, the vineyard… by comparing with the History of China for a better understanding by Chinese people;

–          Geography: always show the geographic situation related to wines (terroirs, grape varieties, wine tastings) on a map for a better understanding and memorization of French and other Mediterranean wines (e.g. “Where is Béziers in Languedoc?”);

–          Wine Tasting: illustrate the various associations with a wine (flowers, fruits, spices, flavours…) with pictures, and even with the products for a better understanding of the analysis of wines (e.g. “What is cinnamon?”). Regarding food and wine pairing, try to be more precise than “spicy cooking”, “sweet cooking” or “dim sum”. It would be probably more appealing to give examples of Chinese dishes and to illustrate them with pictures (e.g. “Which wine with a Chinese fondue?”).

End of the Master Class: many participants asked for the PowerPoint presentation and to take pictures with the speakers. So we suggest to give a USB stick to each participant and to plan a photo shoot after each Master Class.


This analysis reveals that knowledge about wine could be improved through a more in-depth experiential approach, i.e. with pictures, products and with free access to wifi (e.g. for QR Codes). This approach could even integrate sensory marketing: for example, a picture of a lavender field with the smell of lavender would have probably more impact on the visitors. To conclude about this first exhibition of VINISUD Asia in Shanghai: it’s almost like the South!


Dr Sandra Painbéni (Ph.D)

Professor of Marketing – European Business School Paris

Founder-CEO of Be Creative Zen – Teaching & Consulting in Marketing in Arts & Culture

Twitter @BeCreativeZen