Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

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Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby ob_e5 » Fri May 11, 2018 03:36

Hello all,

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.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Big Vern » Fri May 11, 2018 17:08

I have no idea about the wine business. However, in your case I would be looking into buyer jobs with companies that sell wine in Taiwan. You're not going to be able to sell without Chinese.

Only two companies I can think of at the moment are Drinks and Carrefour. I presume that independent wine merchants do their own buying.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby jimipresley » Fri May 11, 2018 18:19

Many years ago, I had a friend (a Taiwanese guy) who was involved in wine importing. He was fluent in French, English, Mandarin and Cantonese. A highly educated man.
He wasn't a gangster himself (as far as I could tell), but he had a shitload of guanxi with gangsters as well as people involved in the wine trade and high-end restaurateurs. I was frequently invited to wine tastings at prestigious places, and didn't have to pay a cent.
Once we went to a small shop and he asked to sample the wine there. The proprietor told him that he would have to pay for any bottles opened. He started screaming and shouting, promising the poor laoban that the next day there would be a team of young baseballers in in the morning to smash every bottle in his establishment. I don't know if that ever occurred, but I did get some insight into the Taiwan wine trade.

Not to dissuade you or anything. Merely an anecdote. And it was years ago. Maybe things have changed. :twocents:
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Big Vern » Fri May 11, 2018 18:52

What would posters say are the most popular drinks are in Taiwan?

I would list it as:

1. Whisky
2. Taiwanese spirits (Gaoliang etc)
3. Beer (with ice)
4. Cognac
5. Red wine (forget about white)

Wine's definitely getting more popular, though. It's a growth market. If someone could somehow convince them that a decent white on a sunny day is delicious, then I reckon they'd be an overnight millionaire. It's always amazed me that there isn't a market for Pimm's over here. I thought that would be a guaranteed winner with the Taiwanese.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Bunks » Sat May 12, 2018 12:25

jimipresley wrote:Many years ago, I had a friend (a Taiwanese guy) who was involved in wine importing. He was fluent in French, English, Mandarin and Cantonese. A highly educated man.
He wasn't a gangster himself (as far as I could tell), but he had a shitload of guan xi with gangsters as well as people involved in the wine trade and high-end restaurateurs. I was frequently invited to wine tastings at prestigious places, and didn't have to pay a cent.
Once we went to a small shop and he asked to sample the wine there. The proprietor told him that he would have to pay for any bottles opened. He started screaming and shouting, promising the poor lao ban that the next day there would be a team of young baseballers in in the morning to smash every bottle in his establishment. I don't know if that ever occurred, but I did get some insight into the Taiwan wine trade.

Not to dissuade you or anything. Merely an anecdote. And it was years ago. Maybe things have changed. :twocents:


Wow, that guy sounds like a real prick.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby jimipresley » Sat May 12, 2018 13:41

Bunks wrote:
jimipresley wrote:Many years ago, I had a friend (a Taiwanese guy) who was involved in wine importing. He was fluent in French, English, Mandarin and Cantonese. A highly educated man.
He wasn't a gangster himself (as far as I could tell), but he had a shitload of guan xi with gangsters as well as people involved in the wine trade and high-end restaurateurs. I was frequently invited to wine tastings at prestigious places, and didn't have to pay a cent.
Once we went to a small shop and he asked to sample the wine there. The proprietor told him that he would have to pay for any bottles opened. He started screaming and shouting, promising the poor lao ban that the next day there would be a team of young baseballers in in the morning to smash every bottle in his establishment. I don't know if that ever occurred, but I did get some insight into the Taiwan wine trade.

Not to dissuade you or anything. Merely an anecdote. And it was years ago. Maybe things have changed. :twocents:


Wow, that guy sounds like a real prick.

Funny thing is, he was otherwise a really nice little bloke. The whole "face" thing, I guess. "Don't fuck with me. I'm a prestigious wine importer."
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Bunks » Sat May 12, 2018 14:11

Off topic, but it's funny how some people try to save face by totally losing their cool, ultimately losing face.

They should read Dale Carnegie.

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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Big Vern » Sat May 12, 2018 14:57

I don't know, JP. I don't think I could consider a mate a nice bloke anymore if he pulled a stunt like that. We all have our moments, but threatening a guy like that is too much.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby sandman » Sat May 12, 2018 15:04

If it were me, I'd first go to one of the bar-managers/owners who are making a healthy living on the "right" side of the law. Its possible. But without the Chinese language skills and without the backup of a dedicated local staff, I think it would be a real challenge. I won't mention any names, but there's a few around. On another note, there are indeed PLENTY of locals with a very finely-honed knowledge of wine. Without Chinese language, you would be in very deep water. Don't worry about baseball bats, etc. You won't even be on the radar of such people. Forget lack of Chinese. What can you actually offer to prospective employers that they can't get here? There are world-class sommeliers here, trained abroad and very knowledgable.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby jimipresley » Sat May 12, 2018 15:05

Big Vern wrote:I don't know, JP. I don't think I could consider a mate a nice bloke anymore if he pulled a stunt like that. We all have our moments, but threatening a guy like that is too much.

I said he was otherwise a good bloke. And I haven't heard from him in 14 years. I was young and easy under the apple bough.
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Re: Relocating to Taiwan - looking for advice on jobs in the wine industry

Postby Big Vern » Sat May 12, 2018 16:41

jimipresley wrote:
Big Vern wrote:I don't know, JP. I don't think I could consider a mate a nice bloke anymore if he pulled a stunt like that. We all have our moments, but threatening a guy like that is too much.

I said he was otherwise a good bloke. And I haven't heard from him in 14 years. I was young and easy under the apple bough.

It made me recall a Taiwanese guy taking me to a dumpling shop years ago. I ordered ten pork dumplings but one was of something else, cabbage or something. I stupidly mentioned this and he went berserk at the serving staff, who proceeded to boil one more pork dumpling for me and bring it over in a special plate.

It was beyond embarrassing.
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