A letter to the editors of Corriere Vinicolo

To the editor: I would like to submit a comment on two recent contributions to the Corriere Vinicolo, issue 49/50, 2010.

Lamberto Vallarino Gancia, president of Federvini (an association of spirits and alcoholic beverage producers) states that “the consumption of wine, aperitifs, liquor, and distillates is part of the heritage of knowledge, culture, and traditions related to the Mediterranean style.”

This statement could lead to confusion: not only confusion between the Mediterranean diet and Mediterranean style, but also confusion between alcohol and alcohol. Wine does indeed have profound cultural significance in and is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. For nine thousand uninterrupted years, the alcohol contained in wine (and also beer) has been produced using the exact same means: fermentation through an organic and natural process. The same is not true of the alcohol found in aperitifs, distillates, liquors, and soft drinks. This is a profound and substantial difference that we cannot continue to ignore.

Sergio Marini, president of Coldiretti (the most important association of farmers and grape growers) states that “we must reopen negotiations to the end of reviving the discussion of chapitalization.”

After a long bout of negotiations, the Common Market Organisation for wine has introduced measures intended to rebalance the wine market.

At the time, it was not possible to eliminate the practice of enrichment (chapitalization and concentrated rectified must), which is the leading cause of oversupply in grape production. Such practices encourage oversupply, they exasperate it, and they empower winemakers who wish to correct deficiencies owed to dishonest grape growing.

Brussels was right when it tried to counter overproduction: it represents a plague that depresses grape prices and diminishes grape growers’ earnings. Italy should instead become a virtuous knight: it should not delay in recognizing the practicality and value of chapitalization but it should ask that it be taxed in Europe and that the proceeds of said tax be allocated to the education of younger generations on the correct consumption of wine.

—Angelo Gaja
Barbaresco, December 28, 2010

Letter published by the Corriere Vinicolo, issue 1/2, January 10, 2011.

Translation by Terlato Wines International.