Loading...

Development of the problematic

The globalization of wine consumption

The production and consumption of wines have a historical and religious importance dating far back to various periods of humanity. It's hard to imagine how a product that is related to the birth of the first civilizations - with the unique culture of peoples, regions or even villages – has nowadays the ability to travel around the world and be present in much of the world's population consumption.

No one knows exactly the location of the first wine production, but the historical data available point to that it has been on the Georgia's territory, in the Caucasus, where the first Vitis Vinifera Sylvestris grapes have been planted, in the VI century BC. The Caucasus region is referred to as the one that hosted the first wines produced by mankind. The use of earthenware pitchers allowed the transport of the wine from the region of origin to another, thus beginning the first trade of this product. It should be noted that the wine is always a highly valued product and extremely important in trade, which immediately allows us to understand the value that a bottle of wine can achieve.

With the cultivation of the vine to become quite relevant to the civilizations of the Caucasus, Egypt and Greece around 300,000 BC, the production of red wines in vineyards near the Nile River began to occur with the ancient Egyptian civilization, which also facilitated the transport by boat to other regions.

But it is in the ancient Greece what that the first qualitative leap in the history of wine happens. The first denomination of origin wine appears at this time, with the mark-up in the amphorae carrying the wine of the initials of the Greek villages where it was produced. And he protection of its origin appears for the first time in the history of the wine. The vine culture in ancient Greece acquired such importance that in Greek mythology there is Dionysus, the God of Wine.

With the decline of ancient Greece and the expansion of the Roman Empire, the cultivation of the vine spread to territories that have not cultivated it yet. It is with the Roman civilization that consumption of wine wins an important impetus. As part of the Roman diet, and in all territories where the Roman legions had influence, they have left the marks of vine culture among local farmers, contributing to make the grape varieties of different points of the Empire travel to places where, until then, the population was unaware of the production of wine. The importance of wine in the Roman Empire was so striking that it gave rise to the existence of mythological Bacchus, the God of Wine.

It is not known exactly in what year the technique of wine in wooden barrels by the people of Northern Europe, the Gauls, was created or in what year the technique, developed by the Syrian people, for bottling wine in glass bottles was discovered. However, the techniques of wine were, of course, adapting to historical developments. The Roman Empire carried wines by the Mediterranean Sea, in different packaging, and in the entire area where Romans intervened the culture of the vine and the wine was implemented.

The Roman Catholic Church had a huge weight on the development of viticulture and oenology, by encouraging the cultivation of vines next to each Church or parish, in order to allow masses to be celebrated with wine. This symbol of belief/faith caused that even today religious ceremonies are accompanied by a glass of wine.

It should be noted that during the middle ages, the monitoring of viticulture and oenology techniques on the part of believers in the Christian religion was of the utmost importance. Throughout the European continent, the monks of different religious orders were the main responsible for the planting of vineyards originating some of the wine-growing regions today. The oldest wine-growing regions of the world, regardless of their country of origin, are linked to the history of the Catholic Church, where viticulture was always seen as an art and wine production as a secret from age-old know-how.

It is at this point, the Middle Ages, and in Portugal, that the first demarcated wine region in the world is created, the Douro region; however this process of demarcation of regions happened successively throughout Europe, in an effort to protect the quality and identity from other wines of lower quality.

The history of wine has always had a close relationship with the planting of vines and wine production in different places, being particularly defining the beginning of the 15th century, with the maritime expeditions of European navigators, in particular the Portuguese and Spanish; in the discovery of new continents, both nations created the first sea routes connecting Europe to other continents.

With the beginning of trade between these new territories and Europe, the cultivation of the vine is implemented in the so-called "new world", particularly in the continent of Latin America and Africa. The first great voyages of export of wine go back to this period. Trade between the different continents gain volume, the wine is recognized as a product able to travel to different continents; but it's also recognised as a product of quality that integrates the diet of most part of economic classes on the European continent, as well as the continents where Europeans were present. I recall that the major wine regions, world-famous today, are historically marked by their exports: Douro, Madeira, Bordeaux, Champagne, among other and often bound for England.

In the 19th century, the Phylloxera plague devastated the continent causing a strong decrease of the total area of vineyards, putting in question the sustainability of the wine production at European level. Before wine shortages, Europe began importing wine from territories which had strong trade relations as a way to reset the consumption on the market, and therefore making it a milestone.

It is in this context that the countries known as the "wine-growing new world" gain importance in the world of Commerce and wine consumption: countries such as South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, the United States of America, New Zealand and China, although in the latter, only a few centuries after the production of wines obtained from the exclusive fermentation of grapes has started. This group of countries have a new philosophy in the production of wines, contrary to the European continent, known as the "wine-growing old world".

The globalization of wine consumption is certainly a topic that is not unique. Since the beginning of its history that the wine is associated to trade with other people and the long crossings of boats and caravels.

In the current situation we look to the export of wine as a way to add value and to signal its presence and identity among diverse audiences. Without a doubt the meeting with new consumers who appreciate the style of Portuguese wine enhances our brands; however, why think of export if our production is small? Considering this fact, it is crucial to draw a strategic plan, adapted to the reality of each wine cellar, which set the parameters of the marketing of their products.

A common mistake in Portugal is to think that only export markets provide value to the products. The national market presents many opportunities for exploration and should be looked at by the wine cellars and Portuguese sales agents as a market with strong potential.

There is also in the Portuguese market excessive protectionism of national wines. From my point of view, it would be important to consider the opening of the national consumer market, giving the Portuguese consumers the opportunity to discover and learn about wines produced in other countries. By meeting other countries' wines, the Portuguese consumer will more easily understand the value of national wines.

The entry of the Portuguese wines in the global trade of wines must be thoroughly evaluated before being part of the corporate strategy. It is important to remember that there is a strong cultural connection between the consumer and the wine that the later consumes. The globalization of wine consumption made possible the opening of various markets to wines from different backgrounds and with different profiles. In a global logic, this approach to international markets raises competitiveness because several countries will compete for a part of the same market.

The question arises:

how does a South Korean consumer, in his/hers local market, wine cellar or another wine marketing space, choose the bottle he/she want to buy, with wines from all over the world and regions that multiply the options of choice by increasing the difficulty in the selection?

How will the consumer make the choice without having tasted the wines in order to make an opinion about the product that he/she likes the most?

This is how the wine market works at a global level; at the same time that it gives access to wines from all over the world, it educates a consumer even more demanding.

Today, when one thinks of exporting and internationalize wine, one must always consider the need for a strong market positioning strategy, thinking about the valuation of brands through a good strategy of marketing and communication.

As described earlier, the history of wine is marked by trade in several countries, with the wine to evolve hand in hand with the development of civilisations. The wine trade was always connected to a great appreciation of this product - either for religious or cultural reasons or simply by belief -, and the current world market for wines is due to this evolution ability. However, the cultural, economic and social circumstances of recent years, unique to the evolving societies, have provoked a change of pattern in how the selection of wine is made by the consumer, in the perception of the value of the product, and the influence that some opinions can have on his/her choice.

The positioning of our products in all continents is already a reality. The technical and logistical conditions that allow our wine to position itself in the markets of the five continents, and with prices adapted to each one of these markets, are created. This is the reality that exists and that it is very interesting for the wine trade.

During the Master's Course of the OIV MSc I noticed that many brands of wines present all over the world had a positioning, an image and different communication strategies for each market. That is, the same wine was adapted to the relevant market. This is the challenge of the globalization of the wine business: to adapt to the needs of each market.
« Previous Chapter Next Chapter »