The Madrid born writer will be coordinating a round table on May 12th at the National Trade Fair on Wine, showcase that he describes as extraordinary, because "it is the fair that has grown the most and it has excellent prospects before it"
The writer and gastronomy and wine expert, Gonzalo Sol de Liaño, will be raising the question of the drop in domestic consumption of wine at FENAVIN, trade fair that is to take place in Ciudad Real from May 10th to the 12th. The drop in domestic consumption represents one of the main barriers that wine producers and winery owners have to overcome to commercialize their products in Spain.
Gonzalo Sol, who is also laureate of the National Gastronomy Award, believes that fresh impetus must be given to this great difficulty that the national market endures so that the parties involved in the sector can find solutions to the problem. It will be during the round table "Drop in Domestic Consumption. What have we done wrong?" which will take place on May 12th at 10:00 a.m., that Gonzalo Sol de Liaño will be putting forward the current reality of the situation, debating the matter with a winery owner and a farmer.
Gonzalo Sol pointed out that in the last thirty or thirty-five years wine has held on to a starring role, as it had never done before. All over the place we have clubs, tasting sessions, guided tours, specialized magazines, sommeliers, and so on, however, consumption has dropped eighty percent, which is also something that had never happened before. Spain, he said, currently consumes 14 liters of wine per capita, when in the seventies this figure reached 70 to 75 liters per capita and year.
Also, if we compare with other European countries or wine growing areas, we drink one fourth part the amount that is consumed in Denmark for example, or half of what the Swiss or Californians consume, or twenty to twenty-five percent less than France and Italy, he informed. In this sense actually, the French consume four to five times more than Spaniards "and they don't have more traffic accidents than we do in Spain, or more alcoholics." Sol de Liaño is quite aware that it is not possible to return to the consumption rates of the seventies, or even to figures such as fifty liters, but he does think a figure of 35-40 liters could be reached.
Meanwhile, he says, Spanish wine continues to defend itself through exports, although at rather low costs, as the average price stands at about 1.09 Euros/liter "with sum minimum rates of 30 cents in the case of the three million hectoliters that have been sold to France."
"What have we done wrong?"
"We've done something wrong," the culinary expert complains, also mentioning the fact that a six hundred and fifty thousand hectares of vineyard have been wiped away, the problem with the wineries that are unable to export, the lack of support from the Government to this sector and promotion of wine, how expensive it is in the restaurateur world and the bad connection that the media makes between wine and alcohol, when paradoxically consumption of alcohol has significantly increased while consumption of wine has dropped sharply. In this respect Gonzalo Sol clarifies that Law 24/2003, on the Vine and Wine that Parliament has passed, in its article 2 it defines wine as "a natural food products exclusively obtained by way of alcoholic fermentation, total or partial, of fresh grapes, pressed or not, or of grape must."
There have been other errors in his opinion, such as the very specific type of dissemination made of the properties of wine, which common mortals were unable to understand, something that "I personally try to avoid saying things like the color of this red wine is deep cherry red or that it has balsamic hints". It is possible that the fact that family meals are a thing of the past has had an influence on consumption, as "when I was a child there was always a bottle of wine on the table at home, and my father, who was a doctor, used to drink wine, although he didn't let me drink until I was eighteen years old, but nowadays kids have lunch at school and their parents barely have time to spend with them at home."
The Brand-name Spain
Sol de Liaño is in complete agreement with the proposal made by Nemesio de Lara, President of FENAVIN, during the presentation of the trade fair: to create a Spain brand-name, just like France has done or like the Californian wines. "I completely agree with this proposal, because in Bordeaux, for example, a region with more than fifteen Designations of Origin, they talk about Bordeaux wine or French wine, not about a specific wine Appellation." However, the disadvantage in this case is the tremendous competitiveness of the wineries and Designation of Origin, as well as the political interests involved in some of the autonomous communities.
The Madrid born writer participated in the fifth edition of FENAVIN at a round table in which Ramón Tamames also took part. They are great friends and they have known each other for years, because they studied at the same school and university. When talking about the trade fair, he said it was simply extraordinary, "it is the fair that has grown the most and it has excellent prospects before it", and with a cultural program that is beyond fascinating.
In the opinion of Gonzalo Sol, Spain's wines are amazing, "such good wines had never been available, and with a great number of wineries and countless brands.", Sometimes, he added, the restaurateur world doesn't have it easy to make a selection of wines, which in turn represents an important activity for commercialization of the wine sector that is currently enduring the consequences of the crisis.
Gonzalo Sol de Liaño (Madrid, 1935) is the author and publisher of one of the first gastronomic guides to come out on the market in Spain and he received the National Gastronomy Award for precisely this achievement, and due to his journalistic work in innumerable articles, columns and specialized magazines. In the year 2008 he also received the Canal Cocina (Cooking Channel) Award to the best radio program and the Five-Star Maître Award to the best gastronomic journalism professional. He is currently the Director of the radio program "Wine, from the stock to the glass, the country recipe or the sea into the kitchen, and on the table", broadcast by Intereconomía Radio on Saturdays. He has published many books on gastronomy and he is currently immersed in the work 'Casa y cocina' (Home and Kitchen).