March 19, 2020 - 11:40am

Since Chinese New Year (24 January 2020), over half the Chinese population have been under house quarantine. During this period, people have quickly found new ways to use social networks to share information, offer practical and moral support, and create entertainment.

Thanks to the development of native apps as a result of the ‘Great Firewall of China’, blocking out international suites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, Chinese social networks are used to forging their own ways in this unprecedented crisis.

Live streamings with special Chinese characteristics, known as ‘yun (cloud) socials’, are proliferating and one popular new trend is ‘Cloud wine tasting’.

It is a long-held belief across many cultures that alcohol could ward off illnesses. Though this claim may not exactly be proven beyond all doubt, alcohol can certainly make a long quarantine more bearable. In China, wine drinking is a social activity — very few people would drink wine alone at home.

That is why ‘Cloud wine tasting’ sessions, either casually among friends via video chat, or being guided by experts or influencers on live streaming platforms (usually with the aim to sell some wines), are gaining more traction, especially among urbane millennials.

COFCO Great Wall Wine Company, China’s largest wine producer, even launched a week-long Cloud wine party, complete with video sharing and rhyming couplet competition, which have attracted hundreds of thousands of interactions. Great Wall has also launched a series of ‘Yun classes’ with wine experts and mixologists to teach people about wine and making cocktails at home.

Obviously there’s a commercial driver — the hope is to cultivate wine consumption at home. If the wine industry can collectively bring about a long-term shift in Chinese consumer behaviour, there would be a bright future to look forward to post pandemic for the industry.

But for now it seems to be helping people get through. Cheers!