Shops Forced to Sell White Wine in China?

I spotted a story in the China Daily Newspaper which reported that the local government of Maotai town in Renhuai city, Guizhou province, recently announced that all shops in Huaimao South Road should sell white wine, and ordered the forcible closure of shops that did not.

The China Daily goes on to say that “this move is nothing but illegal and should be stopped by all means”. Their source is an article on and despite searching both the Chinese and English versions of Eastday’s website I can not locate the original story.

However the China Daily quotes excerpts from the original text which I have included below:

“The head of Moutai town ordered that shops in Huaimao South Road that do not sell white wine should be driven out of business forcibly. When asked about the justification of such a move during an interview, he said it was for the good of the “public”.

The Moutai local government seems to have got the “legal” justification for its action from a recent “urban planning” document, which says all shops in Huaimao South Road should only sell white wine and shops that did not should “move out” within 72 hours.

What’s more, local officials took it for granted that the shopkeepers could be driven out without being paid any compensation.

But no law empowers the local government to close down shops that do not sell wine. Only if shops break the Administrative Licensing Law can they be forced out of business.

And it’s illegal for any local government to drive people out of their legal business without paying them compensation.

By ensuring that all shops along one of the streets in Moutai town sell white wine, local officials have put their own interests above that of others, because by doing so they can boast of having a “better local image” and get publicity.
But by forcing the closure of so many shops, they have seriously violated the shopkeepers’ rights to do business and are guilty of high-handedness.”

I must admit to being surprised by this action but on closer investigation I am sure that “white wine” mentioned in the press is actually Maotai.

Maotai is China’s national drink and was designated as such in 1951, two years after the founding of People’s Republic of China. It is named after the town of Mao Tai in Guizhou province (in south west China) where the drink originates from. It is made from wheat and sorghum with a unique distilling process that involves several fermentations.

The Maotai Wine Company takes up around two thirds of the town‘s area and over one sixth of the town’s population to work for the company.

In addition to the Maotai Wine Company, the town also boasts over 100 private wine factories. Most of them developed from workshops.

As opposed to red wine the Chinese have yet to embrace white wine although the China Wines Information site reports that Chinese consumers are changing their preferences and that sales of white wine are expected to grow 200 – 300% in the near future.

It seems that the white wines of Burgundy have been leading the way. It has also been reported that women in China are leading the trend in drinking more white wine. Jeannie Cho Lee has recently written an interesting post on what she looks for in a white wine on her site Asian Palate – and seems to favour crystalline white wines with fine acidity.

The delay in appreciating white wine stems from the fact that China only started producing white wine domestically in 1978 whereas red wine production dates back to 1892 (Changyu Winery) which was established with vine cuttings from Bordeaux!

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