I am looking to relocate to Taiwan late 2018 / early 2019 to work in the wine industry and would like some advice on how realistic that may be.
I’m not a Mandarin speaker yet but will be enrolling in lessons as soon as I arrive. No preference on city but I would be very happy to live in Tainan as it is my favourite place in Taiwan - visited in 2017 for a month and went to many other cities including Taipei, Chiyai, Kaohsiung etc.
A little bit about me:
- 5 years experience in the UK at a fine wine importer in Operations - Specialist areas, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Germany, Northern Italy.
- WSET Diploma holder
- 5 years wine bar management experience
- Bachelor degree in Music
I am aware that I will need to organise an ARC in order to be able to work, i’m mostly interested in whether people think language may be an issue.
Many thanks in advance for any helpful responses.
It may not be a helpful response, but China is a much better bet.
Thanks, I had considered that.
I know you had. Rich Taiwanese tend towards expensive whisky and it’s taxed accordingly.
Thanks! That is really useful information. Any idea where I can find out about alcohol taxes in Taiwan?
I don’t have them to hand. Hopefully someone on here can provide them. Basically, spirits really cheap. Wine and beer less so.
As an Italian, I found that it’s difficult to find people in Taiwan that appreciate wine. I love wine, when I first met the parents of my girlfriend, I bought them a nice bottle of red wine from my area - they took a sip, said it’s too bitter and added sugar.
Everyone that I have known until now, even people involved in gastronomy, don’t care much about wine. I might have simply been in the wrong circles - don’t let yourself get discouraged by what I am saying, but from what I saw, Taiwan doesn’t seem like a great place to market good wine. People prefer other alcoholic beverages more.
There is a wine bar down by Daan Station. Maybe you could make contacts there.
Know a few people who bring liquor from abroad. No easy buck. As said, taste is different. Have someone explain the concept of ganbei.
Thanks Borg1992. My girlfriend is the same, a sweeter palate it seems but that suits me fine as I love to drink wines with residual sugar as well as dry wines.
Thanks Icon - I’m already aware of ganbei
FWIW, Costco Taiwan, in Hsinchu, has quite a bit of rack space devoted to wine, including wines from Germany, N Italy, France, Spain, and the US and Australia. Most evenings they have at least one sample station open and are pouring samples into small, clear plastic cups (not much larger than a thimble). There are always lots of young Taiwanese surrounding these sample areas - lots of young couples - and when I go through the checkout lines I’m usually amazed how much wine they purchase. Hsinchu has lots of well-paid engineers, many of whom have experience working abroad.
Last night I was behind a young guy (30ish) who plucked out 3 bottles of rioja and added them to his cart with no hesitation; these were priced around NT$799 per bottle. The guy appeared to know what he wanted, and he wasn’t bothered by price. (Maybe he goes home and pours some sugar in 'em, who knows.)
Best of luck.
Haha! Many thanks for the info (I really hope he didn’t go home and pour sugar in!)
Ok, then brace yourself so you won’t flinch, cringe or otherwise scream when they start doing ganbei with fine wine. The pain,the pain…
I have been to far far too many clubs in Taiwan where we were doing “ganbay” with Remy, Martell, Courvoisier, etc… XO cognac. I was going out every night and got so sick of it that I would spit out the stuff into a cup of tea. Just too dang much XO ! Buy two for 6500nt each and get third free in those days. Probably more now.
(best of all the company picked up the tab…not MOI )
It would definitely be easier to start in Taipei rather than elsewhere in Taiwan, due to Taipei’s larger and more developed wine market and your lack of Mandarin.
Wine is still a fairly small market in the capital, though it has become more popular in recent years. Wine bar/retailer numbers are growing - there are half a dozen within just a few hundred meters of my place. (A higher concentration than elsewhere perhaps, but I’ve seen quite a few around - often in residential areas - particularly in East Taipei). These would be a good place to start with, make some contacts and learn about the market here. About half the stores in my area have English-speaking staff, the other half only Mandarin, but (almost) all were fairly knowledgeable about their wines and happy to chat. Some also host wine tasting events.
Some of the international trade offices in Taipei also host wine/F&B tastings, inbound trade missions, meet the grower events etc. I’ve worked in F&B more broadly and have met a bunch of wine importers/distributors at such events.
There’s also a food and wine expo in mid-Nov this year if you’ll be in Taiwan by then.
All the best!
Hong Kong would be a much much more realistic option. Plenty of jobs in the F&B business there and Chinese is not required.