How do you view the potential of Italian wine in your country in terms of market potential?
Italian wine has an identity crisis in the U.S. The high-end wines are well known to the people who drink expensive wine, but most of the rest (save for pinot grigio and the recent growth in Prosecco) is not as well known as it should be. Italian wine, and especially at $15 and less, offers tremendous value, and the goal should be to make the U.S. market aware of those wines.
How do you think Italian producers can improve their performance in your country? What do you suggest?
Make Italian wine, and not American-style wines. Don’t chase scores. It’s as simple as that. Why would a U.S. consumer want to buy an Italian wine that tastes like it was made in California when they can buy a California wine made in California?
What do you think of the quality/price ratio of Italian winest?
It’s among the best in the world, even for some of the most expensive wines. A $50 Italian wine can blow away a $50 Napa wine. And Italian wines regularly make my $10 Wine Hall of Fame.
What qualities do you personally appreciate most in Italian wines?
I’m a terroir guy, and it’s a pleasure to drink Italian wines that speak to their terroir. I’m also enough of a wine geek to appreciate the many and different Italian grape varieties. I get tired of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay.
Please mention the potential of which white varieties and which red varieties do best in your market.
I’m drinking a lot of Sicilian wine, so nero d’avola, grillo and so forth, but the same logic applies to wines from other regions. These are food friendly wines that are different enough to be interesting, but not so different as to scare away the typical U.S. consumer.
What is your advice to Italian producers looking to enter your market?
The U.S., at this time, is the most competitive wine market in the history of the world. You’re going to have to make hard decisions about pricing and marketing, and you probably won’t like what you have to do. But if you have a quality product — which means an Italian wine that tastes like it came from Italy — you can be successful.
Please write a short paragraph on your experience in the wine sector and your current position.
I’ve been writing about wine for a variety of trade and consumer publications for 20 years, specializing in $10 wine and American regional wine. My focus has been on the consumer and educating them so they can make intelligent wine buying decisions without the need for scores and snotty wine critics.
Describe your blog
The Wine Curmudgeon blog focuses on inexpensive wine, wine news, wine trends, and wine education. My goal is to reach the great number of American wine drinkers who are intimidated and confused by wine, and don’t drink more wine because of that. It’s an extension of what I have been doing with my wine writing in other places and since I started.
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