08 January 2015

The joiner in the winecellar with the tenon saw!

Shanzhai culture makes wine purchases daunting in the Middle Kingdom. Language barriers and a lack of DOC enforcement make it a constant hazard for even a fairly competent Chinese oenophile to detect the drinks from the dregs. The French wine conglomerate, Castel Group, has been able to enter the Chinese market primarily on the cachet of all things French. As a student once defined the word, romantic, to me: "You know, like France."
The middle class Chinese consumer wants to drink the best that he can afford and has convinced himself that French wines are all the best. And so through the magical process of self-fulfilling prophecy, French imports are typically the most expensive of any wineshop's selection, and the most profitable for shanzhai bottlers to copy.
Shockingly similar packaging

I can only explain the proliferation of special packaging in China as relating to the need to often deliver special gifts to lubricate social connections. Even truly mediocre wines are placed and sold in 'presentation' boxes, sometimes with special latches or corkscrews. This same marketing gimmick extends to chocolates, fruits, olive oils, even to individually packaged milk containers.

Sidebyside the two wine presentation boxes appear nearly identical. Yes, to the trained eye, the smaller sized of the two might have better proportions, but this is only helpful if one is able to view them thus or has studied western design aesthetics. To avoid such deception, a far better method of examining these cases is to pay particular attention to the joinery.

Any knowledgeable woodworker will know the superiority of a box constructed with fingerjoints to one made cheaply with butt glued miter joints. Taking this observation into account can allow any confused consumer to know with a slightly greater degree of certainty that he is buying himself a bottle of Miribeau whether to impress his colleagues, local government official, or inlaws.

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