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  Editorial Issue 180, January 2019   
Italy: Wine is King AgainItaly: Wine is King Again  Contents 
Issue 179, December 2018 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 181, February 2019

Italy: Wine is King Again


 The relationship Italy and the Italians have with wine is notoriously solid and deep: a love lasting for over two thousand years now and in the many expressions of private, social, formal and ritual life. Wine consumption in Italy evidently depends on factors, so to speak, of customs and fads, something concerning not only the preference of specific styles of wine but also of different beverages. Wine undeniably is the national drink of Italy, however this role in recent years has been undermined by other drinks, in particular beer. This is due to the interest the beverage of Ceres has received in recent years, in particular the so-called craft production which, undeniably, has contributed to a greater awareness and definition of beer quality. The phenomenon of the production of the so-called craft beer, it must be said, is particularly active in Italy and has evidently been able to shift part of the attention for wine towards this drink.


 

 Beer has not obviously been the only cause leading to a decrease in wine consumption in Italy. It will be remembered, in fact, the law concerning the lowering of blood alcohol content for driving vehicles, a measure that has evidently favored the consumption of drinks with a lower alcohol volume, such as beer. Wine has been, so to speak, a victim of this law because – in fact – the intake of just one glass of wine could, in some cases, exceed the minimum limit of the admitted blood alcohol content. Of course, the measure that in theory should discourage driving when someone is in a state of drunkenness is acceptable, but it is undeniable this has led to a contraction in wine consumption in Italy. The same happened to spirits and liquors although it should be noticed the difference regarding the attitude and the mode of consumption between wine and spirits.

 In this regard, it is undeniable beer had a better luck because, in general terms, it is characterized by an average alcohol volume of 5%, much lower – less than half – when compared to the average alcohol content of wine. This change in consumer preferences – in a sense, legally imposed – is still evident today by observing, in general terms, what can be seen in restaurant tables. Until recent times, the presence of a bottle of wine, as well as the simple carafe of the “wine of the house” was very common in most restaurant tables. Today, although bottles and carafes of wine can still be seen, the presence of sparkling and foaming glasses of draft beer, with some timid presence of bottled beers, is clearly more common than in the past. The legitimate concern to exceed the limit allowed by the law on blood alcohol content has undoubtedly influenced the choices of clients in restaurants and wine bars, it has evidently contributed to the decrease in consumption of wine.

 According to the news spread by Coldiretti (an Italian Association of Farmers), in recent years in Italy there has been a change of consumption trends, which has seen wine to be again in the preferences of Italians. In fact, Coldiretti informs that in the last five years there has been an increase in wine consumption of 8%. This figure, among the other things, ranks Italy in the third place in the world among the countries where there is the highest consumption, standing at 22.6 hectoliters in 2017. Only in the United States of America and in France there is a consumption greater than Italy: respectively 32.7 million hectoliters and a growth of 5.7%; 27 million with a 2.8% drop in the last five years. In regard to the increase in consumption expressed in percentages, in the last five years only China has been able to do better than Italy, recording an increase of 8.2%, while attesting its internal consumption to 17.9 million hectoliters: a significant value considering most of the wine consumed in China is imported.

 It must also be said not all the wine produced in Italy – of course – is destined for internal consumption: the share of sales abroad represents a fundamental and essential part of the budget for each winery. In this regard, Coldiretti informs «Wine is the first product of agri-food exports and it is no coincidence the turnover achieved abroad now exceeds the one at national level». By considering the values produced by the Italian wine production, Coldiretti notes that in Italy 310,000 farms are dedicated to grape harvesting and almost 46,000 of them are also involved in wine making, with an area destined to vine growing equal to 652,000 hectares. Italian wine production – according to Coldiretti – generates a value of 10.6 billion euros, of which the majority derive from sales abroad. Moreover, wine in Italy ensures the employment of 1.3 million people from the vineyard to the winery, as well as to commercial distribution, activities and services related to wine.

 In the last five years, apparently and in general terms, the relationship Italians have with wine has also changed, as it seems they tend to favor quality and conscious consumption. It must be noted that, although wine cannot be excluded from these considerations, those who decide to abuse alcohol consumption generally choose other alcoholic beverages. This is also clearly because of the cultural change affecting wine in the last twenty years, a period in which – there is no doubt – the communication and press have been particularly focused on the beverage of Bacchus, also emphasizing the value of the territory and the uniqueness of what is produced by the vineyard. Undeniably, wine has got an élite role, losing its previous identity as a beverage–food, a fundamental element of the culture and tradition of the tables of the peoples of the Mediterranean. It is undeniably good to know wine is regaining its historic dominance among Italians' preferences. Moreover, in case this is also associated to conscious and critical consumption favoring quality, we are certainly happy for this. Long live the wine!

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 180, January 2019   
Italy: Wine is King AgainItaly: Wine is King Again  Contents 
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