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Germany’s slowdown and Kylie Minogue's light: waiting for ProWein 2023

In Düsseldorf, March 19-21, the international fair with strategic markets for Italian wine, sustainability and great tastings at its center

Germany, Europe’s leading market for wine imports, closed 2022 with declines of 2% in value (to 2.7 billion euros) and 6.8% in volume (to 13.3 million hectoliters), with the average price exceeding 2 euros per liter for the first time (2.03, to be precise). The decline in wine shipments to Germany mainly concerns reds, which closed with -12% in volume and -9% in value, and an average price that came in at 2.20 euros per liter. On the other hand, whites still stand at a very low average price (1.20 euros per liter), and in 2022, while growing by 1.2% in value, they lost 8.9% in volume. In addition, 63% of imports involved bulk wine, a stable share compared to the previous year. These are the numbers compiled by the Deutscher Weinbauverband e.V - the association of German producers - on data from the Federal Statistical Office, which bring the entire wine world closer to the appointment with ProWein 2023, staged in Düsseldorf March 19-21.

What is unanimously regarded as the most important international wine fair, however, is also the privileged gateway to all European markets, from those of the Alpine countries to those of the Scandinavian countries, passing through Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Countries in which Italian wine boasts important and constantly growing turnovers: Belgium, for example, closed 2022 at 238 million euros (+8.9%), Switzerland imported as much as 426.3 million euros of Italian wine (+2.7%), Sweden came in at 209.1 million euros (+7.8%), while the Netherlands is worth a turnover of 239 million euros, not to mention Great Britain, the third largest market for Italian wine with 811.5 million euros in turnover. Europe 28, as a whole, is worth exactly half of all Italian wine exports: 3.9 billion euros, and many of the big buyers from these countries will be at ProWein 2023.

Where Italy, as always, will have a place of honor: the first exporting country on the German market, capable of reversing the general trend and growing again in 2022, reaching 1.18 billion euros (+4.9%), which means a 37.7% market share in value, Italy is also first in terms of attendance, with 1,750 exhibitors, divided into three different pavilions. From Valtellina to Etna, from Abruzzo to Bolgheri, passing through the Langhe, Chianti Classico, Doc delle Venezie, and Tuscan Maremma: from North to South, from East to West, Italian wine will be present with all its main territories, its reference wineries and the most prestigious brands (here is the list of participants from Italy).

Overall, ProWein 2023 will welcome as many as 6,000 exhibitors from 60 countries and 400 different territories, as well as thousands of buyers and industry professionals, through which much of the global wine trade passes in Germany and the markets of Northern and Eastern Europe. Spotlight on business, of course, but also on a guest of honor who will certainly not go unnoticed: Kylie Minogue, Australian singer and actress who, after selling more than 90 million records in her career, has seen fit to do the same with wine. On March 20, Kylie Minogue will take to a different stage, that of ProWein 2023, to present her wines - branded “Kylie Minogue Wines”, including the Prosecco Rosé produced together with Zonin and which has become the best-selling wine on the Uk market - and converse with the press (WineNews will also be there).

ProWein will, however, have its own prologue, on March 18, with two appointments of note: the first is with the German stage of Gambero Rosso’s “Tre Bicchieri Worldtour”, with 160 producers from Italy in a walk-around tasting in the historic Rheinterrasse in Düsseldorf; the second is with Meininger’s International Wine Conference, which returns, for the first time since 2019, putting the great theme of sustainability at the center of its analysis in “From Production to Selling: Sustainability redefined”, with international experts and players from the wine world, staged at Hotel Kö59 (same location, then, for the Meininger Awards, the international prizes given by the German magazine to six different categories of wine professionals: National/International Wine Entrepreneur, Lifetime Achievement, Wine Family of the Year, Spirits Company of the Year and Jury’s Honorary Award).

Returning ideally inside the fair, ample space will be devoted to the most current trends, presented in the form of trend shows, special shows and forums: it will debut “World of Zero”, a space dedicated to the current and dominant theme of “non-alcoholic drinks”, and also focus on “Light Bottles & Co.” and the “world of organic wines”, the organic area hosting “Organic World”, and then the special exhibition “Packaging & Design”. The “Same but Different” trend show is confirmed as a real attraction for the world of craft alcoholic beverages, from beer to cider. The “Urban Gastronomy Lounge” by #asktoni & ProWein will still be part of the program, and also worth mentioning are the master classes by Toni Askitis, gastronome, sommelier and influencer, and insights on “Marketing & Kommunikation”, “Food Pairing” and “Welt der Gläser - The World of Glasses”. And also the “Champagne Lounge”, with 120 maisons, and the two “ProWein Forums”, where wineries will present their latest innovations to the markets.

There are insights into the U.S. market among the appointments to be mentioned. On March 19, at 12 p.m., the seminar “Intro to supply chain management for the U.S. Market”, by USA Wine West, on the basics of supply chain operation in the U.S. market, from sourcing to packaging. USA Wine West will also curate “U.S. Wine and Spirits Trends”, a seminar on U.S. consumer trends. Finally, USA Wine Enthusiast magazine will run “U.S. Importer Panel: Forecasts & Trends for the American Palate”, on March 21 at 2 p.m., a panel on how buyers from large overseas importers select wines for their portfolios, always following consumer trends. In conversation with three U.S. importers will be the new tasting director of “Wine Enthusiast”, Anna Christina Cabrales.

An increasingly central, but also complex topic is the relationship between wine and health, the focus of the EU debate and ProWein 2023, which will be the setting, on March 19 at 11 a.m., of the presentation of the new international educational program of “Wine in Moderation” aimed at all professionals in the wine industry. This will be followed by the talk “Low and no alcohol wines - new products, new customers” from Weincampus Neustadt (Germany’s first University of Enology and Viticulture, founded in 2009), which will explore the trend of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wines and how traditional winemaking techniques can improve product quality.

Another production niche to keep an eye on, which by now is not so much of a niche anymore, is natural wines, under the lens of Weincampus Neustadt on March 20 at 2 p.m., in the talk “Natural Wines - Is less more?” in which they will talk about how naturalness, patience in production and dedication to the product can combine wonderfully in the aromas and flavors of a wine. Naturalness that also means sustainability, the focus of “Pioneer Wines for a sustainable future”, on March 21 at 10 a.m., again by Weincampus Neustadt, with a focus on how to reduce the use of fungicides by growing fungicide-resistant vines, those of the so-called “Pioneer Wines”.

Among the curiosities to be mentioned, on March 19 (2 p.m.), “Music in a Glass”, staged at the Urban Gastronomie Lounge, where Toni Askitis, a very popular sommelier in Germany, more hip-hop than pop, able to involve, in his tastings, young people and music lovers, will match three songs to three wines from a winemaker, creating a sort of wine musical. On March 20 (10 a.m.), the latest developments in artificial intelligence and the achievements of “digital noses”, which will soon be able to detect subliminal wine faults, recognize terroirs and group wines according to their origin, in “Digital Nose - Challenge your sensory skills”. Finally, in a packed agenda all to browse and discover, the presentation of the “Wine Travel Awards” project on March 21 (4 p.m.). Many, as is easy to imagine, are also the tastings, on which stands out, as has been happening for a few years now, the one dedicated to the 2020 vintage of Bordeaux, the last one on the market, organized by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, staged on March 20, the true highlight of ProWein 2023.

Nourished, as is easy to imagine, is the presence of producers from every corner of the world, starting with the French, who are expected to exceed 1,000, including more than 500 gathered in the “French Pavilion” from the regional collectives of Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Rhone Valley and many others. Strongly symbolic is the return to ProWein 2023 of 12 producers from Ukraine, testifying to how, despite the war, life continues to go on, and grapes continue to grow, be harvested and turned into wine, to be drunk and marketed. Curious, too, is the increasing presence of British producers, whose growth is being driven by global warming that, for many productions in the Mediterranean basin, is proving detrimental, to say the least. Seven producers, united under the “Wines of Great Britain” brand, to try to give even more stability to sales and exports of English and Welsh sparkling wines, which to date account for 4% of all wine consumed in Britain, and have reached 30 different markets around the world, with interesting growth rates, especially in Norway, Japan and the United States.

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