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dry january


Italian consumers and wine culture

Is abstinence from alcohol better than education for moderate drinking? The British say yes to dry January and perhaps even the French. In Italy no

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

It must be said that in Italy the problem of alcohol abuse is much lower than in other consumer countries. If in fact in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Lithuania and Portugal the average alcohol consumed in a year is 12.5 liters per person. In Italy it is between 5 and 7 liters as in Japan, Iceland or China. It must be known , in the ranking of the OECD countries on alcohol abuse, in the first place are the USA, and Italy is in last position.
However wine is only 12% of the total alcoholic beverages consumed by about 2.3 billion people in the world. To alcohol should be added drugs which are often used in a combined way, especially by young people, to accelerate the euphoric effect.


Tackling abuse through actions of moderate consumer education has been at the heart of the policy of historically wine producing countries such as Italy, France and Spain. These are the countries where average per capita consumption has fallen most in the last 50 years. In Italy it is now 35 liters per year and seems to have stabilized after a real collapse when occasional consumers have replaced the usual ones.


Dry January-Uk tactic against alcohol abuse

Relying on news on the salutary effects of moderate consumption of wine, governments have worked to convince the adult population to drink little but well focusing on the cultural aspects of grape nectar, its role as a complement to good food and a healthy and socialized lifestyle. In fact the communication campaigns explained the project with the title “wine in moderation– Art de vivre”.

Evidently, however, in countries such as Great Britain, where wine plays a very minor role in consumption and especially in alcohol abuse, the tactic of responsible drinking does not work. For this reason, from 2013 there is a campaign that proposes the January of abstinence from alcohol after the excesses of Christmas and New Year. It is the “Dry January” launched by the association “Alcohol change Uk” and supported by the University of Sussex which highlighted the beneficial effects of a month of abstinence on human health.


So far nothing to comment, the problem came when the French health ministry thought of a dry january in his country triggering the angry reaction of local producers. The French wine is in trouble because of the US duties that have saved only the bottles of the great reds (over 14% of alcohol) and Champagne, has problems with the Brexit and the slow down of Chinese imports. For this reason the idea of the“ Janvier sans alcohol” has unleashed a ruckus with the associations of categories that promise battle also in parliament through the elected in the wine-growing districts. In other words, there is an unprecedented political battle between wine supporters as part of European civilization and supporters of alcoholics anonymous who are pushing for bans.

I hope that the Italian Government will never do anything of the kind because the “pro vino” in Palazzo Madama and Monteecitorio is so transversal and strong that it frightens any minister.

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