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  Editorial Issue 123, November 2013   
The Ups and Downs of WineThe Ups and Downs of Wine  Contents 
Issue 122, October 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 124, December 2013

The Ups and Downs of Wine


 Wine, magnificent protagonist of our culture, history and tradition, is also an element strongly connected to fashions, trends and opportunities of the moment. Last but not the least, it is also connected to economic and marketing conditions. In these times, clearly not prosperous and very complicated, times that everyone - more or less - define as “crisis”, also wine, undoubtedly, is affected by this condition. A beverage getting a strong identifying meaning for our Country - Italy - it is however undeniable wine does not represent today a primary need for people. From fundamental element of living in past times - considered as a food and beverage of sustenance - nowadays wine plays a different role, a cultural radical change which mainly transformed it into a beverage for the élite. Nowadays, wine is in fact mainly associated to cultural and intellectual factors, still found in the table as a loyal companion of good cooking, however playing a different role.


 

 Wine consumption, from a raw and direct point of view, is measured, just like any other good, by cold numbers. Numbers telling the specific condition at a given moment and providing the measure with which the glasses of wine lovers and occasional drinkers are being filled. There are also numbers measuring the difference between the quantity of wine produced in a specific period and what it is actually consumed or representing the real needs of the market. Of the news we receive every year during harvesting times, two in particular give me a certain cheerfulness, in particular for the disputable importance of one of them. I am talking about the breaking news repeating every year and that recently, lucky us, is happening less and less, telling - every year and with the same emphasis - every new harvesting is going to be the one of the century.

 The other news, which I consider truly “amazing”, is the annual competition between Italy and France in order to win the prize of first wine producer of the world. A truly amazing match, like those - for the ones who are interested in football - played by Italy and France in occasion of the world championship and, in that occasion, the Country finally gets united, ready to affirm its national pride, like everyone would do for important occasions. This year, 2013, Italy reaches again the top of the wine Olympus by showing the world its prestigious prize, by defeating the cousins living on the other side of the Alps for the quantity of wine produced from its vineyards. Italy is again the first wine producer of the world, by leaving to France only the second place. Production figures suggest Italy will make 44 millions of hectoliters of wine, maybe 45, whereas the French will make 43.5 only. We are the best! We have won! We are the world champions!

 Then, in the next months, usually in springtime, we will see other news - also in this case recurring every year and not something to be happy for - telling the difficulties of Italian wineries in selling their wine. Here, frankly speaking, there is nothing to laugh about, no time for irony, as this is a serious and troublesome problem. Sales of wine, this is undeniable, are not good as it used to be. To realize this, you can watch the tables of a restaurant and count in how many of them you can see a bottle of wine. The number will be, in most of the cases, pretty modest. Some could raise an objection, the fault is also of restaurateurs and of their scarcely agreeable logics of profits, convinced wine is a product to speculate on. For the sake of truth, not all restaurants and restaurateurs are the same: some apply reasonable margin of profits, others - who I consider not truly intelligent - apply exorbitant margins and absolutely unjustified, and end up complaining their customers do not buy wine.

 The same happens, although differently, also in supermarkets, where we can usually see countless bottles on shelves, whole areas completely dedicated to wine. Here things are a little better, however, if we take a look at customers' carts, in few of them you can spot wine bottles and, in those where you spot one, in most of the cases, it is a bottle having a modest value, economically speaking, of course. Producers, more or less, complain about the same difficulty since many years: cellars are full, selling wine is not simple as it used to be. And the space in a cellar, when it is occupied, represents a cost. Wine consumption is not having its best time and people - denying this would have no use - limit the money they can spend and change their priorities according to their primary needs: wine is usually left at the bottom of the list. Wineries, as there is no alternative to this, try to find a better condition abroad, in those markets where everyone is trying to be: the match is fiercely played with the strategy of the lowest price possible.

 The annual wine competition between Italy and France, sees the appearance of a new competitor which, maybe, will be considered by many extraneous to this matters. Coldiretti, the Italian association of farmers which spread the news, tells us the third place is occupied by Spain followed by United States of America and, then, China. It is now many years that in this country wine is becoming more and more popular, both in production and - in particular - in terms of consumption. It is commonly known, some European wineries are considering China as a possible wine land, most of the time with the collaboration of Chinese firms, investing their capitals in vineyards and building highly technological wineries. Wine is getting more and more popular among Chinese entrepreneurs and, this is something to be certain of, they will soon be capable of making high quality wines, capable of competing with the ones of the Old World. Quality at a competitive price: something already happened in Australia, Chile, Argentina and in the other emerging wine countries of the world. We Italians can also be the first wine producers in the world, but soon our huge production of wine will be forced to compete with the bottles coming from these producers. The ups and downs of wine. We however are the best in the world: honor is saved.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 123, November 2013   
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