There is a risk that we may see wine disappear from habits of Italian consumers. It is not enough that it represents one of the main elements in our food sector, that it now has a turnover of over 14 billion euros and is one of our leading national exports. It is not enough that it is our most traditional beverage, for thousands of years at the center our Mediterranean cuisine and cultural heritage.
Italian wine today is subjected to the same tax rate as the one for luxury goods, it is the target of an anti-alcohol campaign which makes no distinction between wine and hard liquor, between acceptable and moderate consumption and abuse. The result? Wine consumption is in a tailspin, it has never been as low has it has in these past few years and this not just for economic problems facing consumers due to the current crisis, but because of an increasingly marked disaffection among a broad cross section of society.
At present the focus is on exports, which are rapidly absorbing high percentages of overall production, currently more than 40%. What I wonder is how long this can last. Meanwhile, there are those of us who have taken to the trenches. Certainly AIS with its appreciation courses, some sectors of the press, true wine lovers and intelligent and innovative wine makers, who understand this is not the time to break ranks, to take cover in their cellars in the hope that one day someone will knock on their doors to order a few hundred cases.
Unfortunately, who appears to be AWOL in this situation is the State and politicians in general. It is disheartening to see how little those who govern us know about wine. French presidents Chirac, Mitterand, just to name a few, were excellent connoisseurs of French wine. The only one we can name of our leaders who was even close to their level was Saragat.