Food and Drink For Members

Are Italians really drinking less wine?

The Local Italy
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Are Italians really drinking less wine?
A man smells a glass of wine in a vineyard near Alessandria, northwestern Italy, in August 2023. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

A new study suggests Italians are drinking less wine than in the past. Is this true - and what could be behind the trend?


A recently released report from an Italian wine observatory delivered some sobering news for wine producers: wine consumption in Italy fell by eight percent in the five years between 2019 and 2023 - three percent in the past year alone.

The analysis from the Uiv-ISMEA Observatory found that red wines have borne the brunt of the downturn, experiencing a 17 percent decline in sales over the same five-year period.

Sparkling wines, by contrast, saw a 19 percent increase in sales since 2019, and rosé wine a 17 percent increase.

The study was based on data from Italy's Nielsen company, and examined sales in large-scale distribution and retail trade, comparing 2023 consumption to the previous five years.

While the data shows that Italians are drinking less wine overall, it also suggests their tastes are becoming more refined.

Sales of wines bearing the prestigious DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protettiva) label, which originate from a clearly defined geographical area in Italy's best wine-producing regions, fell by only two percent.

READ ALSO: Italian food and wine: What does the DOP label mean – and are these products better?

DOP white wine sales, meanwhile, saw a three percent increase since 2019.

A range of factors are likely to be driving the overall decline, but one key data point is that younger generations of people in Italy and across the world appear to be less interested in consuming wine than their predecessors.

La Repubblica newspaper suggests that the rise in popularity of low and zero-alcohol drinks, as well as an increased interest among young people in health and wellness, could be additional factors.


One big winner defying the odds in all this, the report shows, is the Italian sparkling wine Prosecco, whose sales have seen a meteoric 30-percent increase in the past five years.

READ ALSO: Global wine production reaches lowest level since 1961

Prosecco's rise in global popularity is likely in large part down to the fact that the wine is more affordable than alternatives like champagne, and its sweeter, lighter taste makes it more suitable for regular consumption as an aperitif.

But it may also be connected to the fact that in 2009 Italy created the DOC Prosecco region, abolishing the prosecco grape variety, which became known instead as glera.

This meant that other parts of the world could (in theory) no longer produce prosecco and - at least within the EU - only Italian prosecco could be sold as such, giving Italy a monopoly over the drink.


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