The oft-talked-about BRIC countries hold great potential for growth in many industries, but the nature of these markets make it difficult to enter and work with if not prepared.

Each market has its own intricacies of legislation, tax and consumption trends so each country needs to be approached separately. The BRIC countries were grouped together as some of the fastest-growing and largest world economies, but the market characteristics can be very different especially when it comes to wine.

China has the largest wine market and is also the fastest-growing in volume and percentage terms. China became a top five wine-consuming nation in 2011, overtaking the UK. Although China shows great promise the market holds risks and can be tough to enter. According to the IWSR’s China Wine Market Report 2012, the market generates a lot of hype and remains a complex market to navigate. The ‘invisible’ market is the underlying cause of most of the excitement over the imported wine market in China, but it is difficult to penetrate. The ‘invisible’ market consists of importers with customers who, due to strong relationships and/or ‘personal incentives’ will buy anything they are told to buy by the importer. More wholesalers are entering the market and capitalizing on the buzz, but many are inexperienced.

Russia similarly holds promise for wine exporters. Imported wines are growing faster than local product and look set to overtake within the next five years. Finding the right partners and wading through all the red tape to get on the market can be a tough process, but worth the effort if you get it right. The Russian government also has a tendency to introduce new legislation without proper preparation, causing disruption to the market.