A forum here on the culture of liquor has brought together Chinese and French producers, connoisseurs and business players for a taste of traditions and an exchange on innovation and opportunities.
Hu Yuewu, deputy general manager of King's Luck, a Chinese distillery based in Jiangsu Province, presented on Wednesday evening the long history of "baijiu" or "clear liquor" -- grain-based spirits -- in Chinese culture and the special role it plays in the social life of Chinese people.
"Similarly, wine and cognac are present in almost every aspect of the French culture," said Hu, adding "An exchange of experiences and innovations in our sector will surely bring our two peoples closer."
Philippe Faure-Brac, president of the Union of French Sommellerie, who had visited China several times, noted that baijiu plays various roles in Chinese social life, from celebration to medicinal.
Unlike whisky, vodka or cognac which are at around 40 percent alcohol by volume, Chinese liquor is much stronger, typically at between 40 percent and 60 percent, which makes it less acceptable for unfamiliar drinkers meeting for the first time.
However, liquor fans are growing in Europe, said Wang Yaqing, a Chinese liquor trader based in France.
He told dozens of enthusiastic professionals invited to the forum that several bars in Paris have already come up with creative cocktail recipes with baijiu, which turn out to be "huge success".
"People are embracing Chinese liquor, which tastes different," said Wang.
Jean-Claude Mariani, president of the Professional Association of Chroniclers & Informers of Gastronomy & Wine, agreed that different dining and wining cultures enrich each other.
It is good to see more and more Chinese fall in love with French wine and more French people start to discover Chinese liquor, he said.
Stephane Volpato, director of Armagnac Jean Cave, and Guillaume Drouin, president of Calvados Christian Drouin, shared the traditional knowledge and new technical methods of French Eaux-de-Vie.
France remains the leading source of imported wines in the Chinese market.
A research report from IndustryARC released in July said the global baijiu market size was 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 and will grow at 6.9 percent per year in 2019-2025.