Prosecco and Cava are driving growth in the mainstream market, while Champagne continues to dominate the high end.
Red wine has traditionally dominated Taiwan’s wine market, bolstered by Bordeaux and Burgundy’s brand power. By comparison, most white and rosé wines have failed.
The exception is sparkling wine. Champagne is well-known in this country, yet it is a smaller market than Bordeaux or Burgundy. Less-expensive sparkling wines, such as Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain, have made inroads in recent years thanks to strong marketing in hypermarkets and supermarkets. Even some convenience stores now sell low-cost Champagne.
According to data published by the Chinese-language Wine & Spirits Digest, overall sparkling wine imports in Taiwan have increased by 15% since 2014, from 962,365 liters to 1.07 million. Imports from France, which are nearly entirely made up of Champagne, have increased by 26%. Imports from Italy, particularly Prosecco, have increased by 47%. Spain’s Cava has increased the greatest, with a 79 percent increase, but it also began at the lowest baseline.
“People are understanding that there are other sparkling wines besides Champagne,” says Steven Liu, publisher of Wine & Spirits Digest. “Prosecco is imported in large quantities by Carrefour and RT Mart, and it is sold for NT$300 to NT$500 per bottle. The cost is acceptable.”
According to Liu, the bubbles in sparkling wine soften the acidity, making it more drinkable for Taiwanese than still white or rosé wine (typically dismissed as “sour”).
At the same time, many sparkling wines’ carbonation and relative dryness are recognizable to Taiwanese beer aficionados. The transition from beer to sparkling wine isn’t as drastic as the transition from beer to still white or rosé wine.