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night talk:
A Ripe Market

A mere five years ago Shanghai was a wasteland for the wine connoisseur; today oenophiles are gradually becoming spoiled for choice. Over the last several months the city has witnessed yet another round of wine bar openings, further expanding the list of options for sampling a good drop. Yet in this increasingly saturated market, entrepreneurs still see tremendous opportunity for growth, making it a good bet the recent explosion of venues is a sign of things to come.

“We consider this to be a great year to open, as the wine bar market started just a few years ago,” says Pascal Ballot of Three on the Bund’s new venture, House of Wine (HOW, pictured below). “There is now an existing base of amateurs and connoisseurs living in Shanghai. We believe there still is room for more wine bars, and definitely quality wine bars, in the city. Competition is healthy, and the more that exist, the more people can discover this amazing drink.”

Sharing the same floor as New Heights, the cosy locale pairs naturally made French wine with rustic and simple snack foods, in the hopes of drawing the after-dinner Concession crowd to the Bund. HOW is following the lead of Enoteca (now Enoterra), Cuvée, Dr Wine and others – pioneers who originally planted the roots of the city’s budding wine bar market. Dismissing suggestions of over-saturation, Ballot smells a bouquet of opportunity. “We think the consumption of wine in China will continue rising steadily, and French wines – especially naturally-made and fairly-priced ones – will represent a growing stake of wine sales.”

Ballot is not alone. Brian Tan, owner/chef of the House of Flour Group, opened a hoF outlet dedicated to the drink of the gods in Lujiazui earlier this summer. Set in the shadow of the Pearl Tower, the bar and brasserie balances Tan’s strengths of artisan desserts and fine dining with an extensive list of mostly new world wines. “Wine in Pudong has always been hard to come by at a good value, as hotel bars are always very expensive,” he says. “Every major financial city in the world has at least one wine bar that serves the banker community and that is what, in part, we hope to create here.”

Nearly overnight, the district is now home to three wine bars. Tan believes the city’s original phase of openings focused primarily on entry-level consumers and expatriates – establishing a foundation – but as the market rapidly matures opportunity grows for expansion and niche development. He also believes wine education is very important and plans to encourage its advancement with monthly tasting events.


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