The Linguist

The Linguist 56,6 – December 2017/January 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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10 The Linguist Vol/56 No/6 2017 Selling wine to China L ining the far aisle of your local supermarket is an increasingly international selection of wine. From Austrian Rieslings and South African Chardonnays to Italian Chiantis and French Merlots, today's consumers are spoilt for choice. Yet some options may surprise even the most dedicated connoisseurs. Nestling among more familiar bottles at Tesco and Sainsbury's, wine-lovers can now pick up a Chinese vintage or two. China may not be known for its appreciation of the grape, but its wine market is growing fast. Domestic production is on the up in terms of both quality and volume; only Spain dedicates more land to vines worldwide, while increasingly well-reputed Chinese wine companies, including Changyu, Great Wall Wine and Grace Vineyard, are building audiences both nationally and internationally. Yet more wine still flows into China than out of it. According to, 2016 saw 482 million litres of bottled wine imported with a value of US$2 billion – a 22% increase compared to 2015. Overall, the Chinese are now quaffing more vin rouge than the French and the Italians. This brings a need for translation. For imports, key information – including winery name, region of origin, alcohol content and more – is required, by law, to be included in Chinese on the back label of each bottle. Domestically-produced wines, meanwhile, are commonly given English-language names from the outset, bringing fewer translation needs out of Mandarin for export. Among Grace Vineyard's bottles, for example, are Deep Blue, Chairman's Reserve and Angelina Sparkling. "Imported wine has been around in China for more than a decade now," explains Chuan Zhou, Research Director at the marketing, strategy and research company Wine Intelligence. "Over that time, wine producers and brand owners developed vocabulary to communicate with the Chinese consumers." The problem was, this happened organically, bringing various alternative translations for common terms. "There are still four ways of translating 'Merlot'," Zhou notes, "and they all look and sound similar, which can be quite confusing". Attempting to bring some consensus, the Norm of Terminology Translation of Imported Wines, a standardised list of words and phrases, was published by the Chinese authority in 2015. However, translators still have to work creatively. "A lot of the fruits used to describe wines in Europe are not familiar to Chinese people – such as blackcurrant or elderflower," Zhou says. "I've never had gooseberry in China." In 2016, Wine Intelligence conducted research into which words Chinese consumers found appealing on a wine label. The top 20 included local flavours, such as lychee and jasmine tea leaves. Women saw rose The meteoric growth of the Chinese wine market brings complex translation needs, finds Jessica Moore Only Spain dedicates more land to vines worldwide… the Chinese are now quaffing more vin rouge than the French

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