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Allegrini 2018
FACE TO FACE WITH WINENEWS

Italian wine sales and the future of markets, restaurants and events: the James Suckling-thought

Consumption has never stopped,which is why for the critic they will resume after Covid19. The future is direct-to-consumer, communication fundamental

The passion for wine intact and, indeed, stronger, because the desire to drink it in the world has never passed. And the future on the fundamental markets, from where we stopped, but never completely, fortunately, with online sales and especially direct-to-consumer sales that have made and will make a difference, for everyone, without exclusion, next to the traditional channels; and in the world catering that, instead, from the U.S. to Asia, has stopped, leaving a huge void and making feel all its economic weight, but also social and cultural (knowledge, storytelling, promotion of wine and quality food in the world pass through here); but also events, in a year that, unable to travel, without their incredible quantity and frequency, which once amazed us and today we miss them, makes us work in smart working, but halfway, due to the lack of direct contact with producers, first of all, but also with operators, buyers, and distributors, with sommeliers and restaurateurs, with critics and the many voices of the sector. It embraces every aspect of the world of wine, in its economic importance and cultural complexity, the thought of James Suckling, one of the most influential names in international wine journalism, face to face with the director of WineNews, Alessandro Regoli, on the restart of the sector after the Covid19 emergency. A key element that brings them together is communication, which has never before shown its full weight towards consumers but also towards those who sell wine, and which, because of the distances we still have to maintain, will be increasingly fundamental.
The difficulty of imagining the future of the wine market has been repeated several times in recent months. “However, in the countries of reference, Italian wines continue to be sold and, thanks to wine lovers, even more - explains the famous critic - but now sales have also increased a lot on the web and online sales channels. In the United States and Canada, Italian wines are doing very well, in Asia the situation is a bit different: in China, wine sales dropped by 10-20%, because Chinese people at home don’t drink, but when they're out in bars and restaurants; the same for Hong Kong, but here the bars have been less closed, and for example, our James Suckling Wine Central wine bar has only been closed for 10 days and a month now a lot of people have been coming to eat and drink wine, and this makes me super positive for China and Korea too. However, in the future also online sales will be very important and everyone must think about selling direct-to-consumer, or dtc as they say in California, because it is essential to have customers who are direct consumers, and, at the same time, continue to sell as always with distributors and importers. The world has changed - reflects Suckling - and the strategy is to think about how to sell wines for everyone, and communication is now more important than ever, also and above all with those who sell, and even remotely, via web and social media”.
Affected as never before, and with it, the consumption of quality wines, “for the long closed world catering without customers, to start again is and will be difficult - he points out - there will be fewer places, and I am thinking in particular of family restaurants. In the USA 45% of the sector will close forever, in Italy I don’t know exactly, here in Hong Kong 25% is already closed. At the same time, however, their role as “windows to sell and bring people closer to wine will remain fundamental, especially for Italian wines”.
A fundamental moment of communication and business, even the events will change, “differently in the various countries, but there will perhaps not be for one even two years, because after the COVID will continue to be difficult to travel because everyone will have to prove that they do not have the virus and for the quarantine systems adopted in the States. This is why I reiterate the importance of communication with sellers, restaurateurs, and consumers, which will also change the events, looking at the web and social media, but when we can return to participate I think especially to smaller events. In our restaurant in Hong Kong, we do a promotional event dedicated to Bordeaux and then we will do it on Italy, with a month of tastings and masterclasses and with traders who can come for 5-7 days to taste all the wines for an hour, with a direct communication-information from the wineries. Then, they will start again, because people like to drink wine and do it together. It is human. And Italy with its beautiful wines, its incredible territories, its exquisite people and with a big heart, is the most human country in the world. That is why you have to think positive, there is no other country in the world like Italy”.

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