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China

  • Why Is Cognac So Popular In China?

    ChinaWhile Baijiu is the undisputed national spirit of China, cognac is the drink of choice for the country’s elite imbiber.  This tradition started about 200 years ago when Shanghai became a treaty port and some of the first companies to take advantage, were cognac producers.  In traditional China, drinking, eating, and socialising are all closely tied together and the tendency is for cognac to be consumed neat and in large quantities. There is frequent toasting during which everyone participating is expected to empty their glass or else they will lose face.  Cognac isn’t served in snifters, but in small shot glasses or teacups and a Chinese saying directs that it should be drunk ‘as if it were water’.  In general, it is the ‘old school’ Chinese who have made it such a popular drink.  They are traditional in their habits and interests, taking long, slow lunchtimes and playing Mahjong.  The Chinese also care as much about the packaging as they do the liquid inside the bottle.  The revealing of a very elaborate and fancy-looking bottle shows respect for their relationships with a group.  With cognac now ingrained into so many aspects of their culture, it is not surprising that this French product has become such a mainstay of Chinese life.  However, if this enormous demand is to be sustained, the younger generations need to get as excited about the spirit as the old-school set, and that’s a problem that has yet to be solved.