For the most part, I read technical textbooks related to wine making. When the publisher offered a free book to read “Thirsty Dragon: China’s Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World’s Best Wines” I said yes and was looking forward to reading the book.
The background: An inside view of China’s quest to become a global wine power and Bordeaux’s attempt to master the thirsty dragon it helped create.
Thirsty Dragon contains ten chapters plus an epilogue and notes. Each chapter is a mini story talking about the history of the relationship between Bordeaux and China up to modern-day.
Chapter 1: First Growths
Chapter 2: No Boundaries
Chapter 3: Planting Vines
Chapter 4: Lucky Red
Chapter 5: Chateau Mania
Chapter 6: All in a Name
Chapter 7: Standoff
Chapter 8: Shifting Winds
Chapter 9: Ban Bei
Chapter 10: Adjust Measures to Local Conditions
As I read each chapter, I found myself very frustrated with the story. Why would anyone want to start a business in China with such a corrupt government and business owners? For example, chapter 2 “No Boundaries” the Chinese Smuggling Prevention Department of the Chinese Customs Services raided the office of a wine importer in Shanghai. This apparently was a common occurrence every six months as they are looking for free handouts or wine. The young owner “Don Jr”. was questioned by authorities and eventually he was arrested. The cell conditions were horrible and he was let out very little during the time in jail. A week later he was freed with no reason. The importer agreed to admit that the firm had undervalued its imports, paid a fine and everything was back to normal.
The book is 322 pages including notes. The stories are well written. The Author’s note: This is a true story though some names and details have been changed or withheld is a little tacky. If most of the stories are true I am sure people did not want to be named for fear of repercussion.
I rated the book four glasses because I cannot image how the Bordelais would want to continue to work with the Chinese government and local business owners. I guess money drives any and all business decisions sane or insane…. I honestly lost interest and the book is on my shelf.
Life is too short to drink crappy wine. Expand your palate and keep trying.