After a two-year hiatus, Vinitaly returned with a flourish to Verona, Italy, for its 54th edition. A total of 4,400 companies from 19 countries welcomed 88,000 business visitors, a third of which were operators from 139 countries.
Some call it a year of return, restart or recovery, but it was nothing short of a renaissance. Kilometres of halls, which had been repurposed as a vaccination centre until just a few months ago, were beaming with business once more. Meanwhile, for the wine enthusiasts, Vinitalyand The City coloured Verona red and brought hope for the future. Vinitaly 2022 was proof that, during these two years of absence, the wine world has not stopped but accelerated forward - especially when it comes to sustainability, equality and diversity.
If you missed the chance to be there, here are five things we learned from the biggest wine event of the year.
Orange wines – the fourth colour of wine
Image courtesy of Orange Wine Festival Izola
They are called new-ancient wines, low-impact wines. Orange wines are a spontaneous fermented type of white wine where the grape skins (and often stems) are left in contact with the juice for a few days up to a couple of years. This creates an orange-hue and complex flavours not usually seen in white wines. At a walk around a tasting event organised by the Orange Wine Festival (of Izola, Slovenia), producers from Slovenia, Italy and Georgia presented their wines to eager palates. The tasting illustrated the diversity among these wines. Not all orange wines are natural wines. And not all natural wines are orange. However, there is a general trend of them embracing traditional methods and having a low environmental impact. Therefore, increased sensitivity to climate change, sustainability, and the wish to return to tradition has generated a growing interest in artisanal orange wines. How do these wines taste? They don’t fit in regular wine categories. They are fruity, nutty, with tannins and notes of honey and herbs, and sometimes straight out funky.
Micro Mega Wines – micro production, mega quality
A new section this year was reservedfor niche productions in limited edition and of the highest quality.This Vinitaly initiative was organised in collaboration with Ian D'Agata, a renowned wine writer and one of the leading promoters of Italian wines around the world. The space was dedicated to companies who produce excellent wines from native vines, some of which are nearly extinct. An example of this new niche is Venissa winery, producing wines on the island of Mazzorbo in Venice from an indigenous grape variety, Dorona di Venezia, that had adapted to the salty conditions of the lagoon over the centuries. They bottle some of their wines in hand blown half a litre Murano glass bottles labelled with gold leaf. By the way, this organic macerated white wine with golden colour also fits the somewhat loose definition for orange wine.
Mixology – drinks for the new social age
Image courtesy of Vinitaly
Mixology made a successful debut at the Vinitaly Special Edition last October. The idea to mix wine or liquor into new aperitif drinks addresses the demand for more accessible, fun and diverse drinking moments. They are spot on for young consumers who are looking for new drinks with good quality and refined taste with no limits.In the mixology area, selected bartenders from all over Italy competed to create winning mixes (such as mango spritz, new fashioned, or cuba-piemonte), using sparkling and still wines, rediscovering grappa and proposing kombucha and sake as new protagonists of original cocktails.
Alcohol free wines – join in the fun
According to a survey by UIV (Italian Wine Union) on the American market, younger generations are increasingly looking for no alcohol, low-alcohol, and low-calorie drinks. Some wineries are catering to this demand also. In this case, grapes are fermented, vinified, and created into a fully alcoholic product, then the alcohol is removed by physical methods, such as distillation or reverse osmosis. The Steinbock alcohol-free wine produced by Alto Adige winery J.Hoffstätter was available at Vinitaly in still and sparkling form. They are technically called non-alcoholic beverages and are made by removing alcohol from Riesling wine. The result is a slightly sweet and delicate wine that can extend social moments to people who are driving, pregnant or simply want to have fun with a drink, without consuming alcohol.
Vinitaly And The City 2022, image courtesy of Vinitaly
E-commerce – online options and deals
Another focus of the wine business was on online sales. The increase in online sales is linked to the trend in the wide range of options wine enthusiasts are looking for. The variety of international offerings, combined with wine descriptions and possibilities to save, have allowed sites such as Tannico (the market leader of online wine and spirit sales in Italy, 49% owned by Campari) to lead the change in this sales channel.
Vinitaly is not only about business, but it’s also about community building. Vinitaly has chosen to donate all the proceeds of the super-tastings and all the paid masterclasses of this year - estimated at 80,000 euros - to Caritas initiatives in support of the populations affected by the war in Ukraine.
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