Italian Wine and America's Recession

March 1, 2009

The government has finally announced that we’re in a recession. Did any of you or your neighbors not already know that??

On a recent evening in Miami, I noticed 8-10 towers of luxurious condominiums on the waterfront with only about 20% of the units with their lights on. I have read reports of restaurant business being down 45% in Los Angeles and San Francisco. I know of at least 3 top restaurants in New York City that have closed their doors.

Notwithstanding all the bad economic news, there is a bright spot in the Italian wine business. At the recent VINO 2009 in New York City, information was released from the U.S. Department of Commerce stating that Italian wines remain the most highly consumed imported wine in the United States. Their two closest competitors are Australia and France.

The continuing increased demand for Pinot Grigio from the American market is a driving force that allows consumers to become comfortable with Italian wine. These same people can then begin to experiment with some of the other indigenous varietals.

American chain restaurants are seeing increased sales in such wines as Orvieto and Valpolicella. There is also evidence of a rebirth of Lambrusco.

Sergio Esposito, owner of New York’s Italian-only retail emporium Italian Wine Merchants, states that the indigenous varieties have definitely sparked consumer interest. He says that some people may have called these grapes the “weird and wacky” grapes five years ago, however, today you can find them in retail stores and fine Italian restaurants throughout the country.

Colum Sheehan, general manager of Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca in New York City states that people have progressed beyond Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese, and are now aware of the Nebbiolo grape that makes the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines.

It seems that the hottest Italian wine sales now are wines that contain the following grapes:

I’m sure that our readers are all familiar with those names. You may have even moved onto this next batch of wines that most of the Italian wine professionals at VINO 2009 believe will be the next ones to be “discovered” by American consumers:

I’m going to try to do my part in ending this recession. I’ll concentrate on keeping my job, being able to afford my house, and continue popping Italian corks!!!

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