The association of the blind in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where the wine industry has become an important pillar, has been training the visually handicapped as wine connoisseurs to equip them with special expertise.
Gently swirling wine in their glasses, several blind people at the Ningxia Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled, under the guidance of their trainer from a vineyard, tasted a rose wine and tried to describe its floral, complex aroma.
The visually impaired participants of the training program are required to undergo olfactory and taste assessments first.
"Seeing, smelling and sipping the wine are three major steps in wine tasting. Although blind people can't see, they have greater concentration in the last two steps," said He Yangyang, the trainer and sales manager of Ningxia Yangyang International Vineyard.
Yang Jingyu, deputy head of the association, said as most blind people choose to find work in the massage industry since they have few job options, the training program is expected to provide them with new job opportunities, especially for those with keen senses of smell and taste.
Ningxia currently has 32,800 hectares of grape plantations, with wineries generating an annual output of 130 million bottles of wine. The comprehensive industrial output value for 2019 came in at about 26.1 billion yuan (about 3.9 billion U.S. dollars).