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Yesterday, among the guests of the master in food and wine journalism that I am following at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome there was the journalist Anna Prandoni. He talked to us about many things, but one in particular struck me: his reference to him to Lambrusco as a gift from Berlusconi to Putin. I read her article and it made me want to write this… and so thank you for inspiring me.

In her article Anna Prandoni talks about the importance of understanding the recipient and she is absolutely right.

It is understanding of the recipient, it is the achievement of the diplomatic goal. It is - above all - a precise mirror of how Italy is perceived, and therefore sold, abroad. And it is the clear demonstration of how much work we still have to do to improve the knowledge of our "excellences" abroad. […] In short: what to give to someone who has everything? One of the most representative wines in its territory, the one that more than the others represents us abroad. The easiest choice, the one that protects you from any possible diplomatic error. Something that the recipient certainly knows, and appreciates. Something that with its pleasantness, its sweetness, its amiability, is perfectly understandable and appreciable even by those who know little about wine.

Read here the full article by Anna Prandoni on Linkiesta

However, while agreeing with Anna Prandoni's analysis, I can't help but wonder what the fact that Lambrusco is the most exported sparkling wine (and consequently known) abroad has to do with Berlusconi's gift to Putin .

Meanwhile, he assumes that Putin is not a wine expert and Berlusconi wants to give him something that he is still able to appreciate. Personally I believe that a head of state like Putin has drunk a few good bottles in the course of his life… and, in addition to studying books, one way to refine the palate is certainly to drink a lot and well. Then he assumes that Berlusconi did not fully understand the export data: even if Lambrusco is the most exported wine, the Italian leadership in Russia is of sparkling wines (Source: Nomisma Wine Monitor) and Lambrusco, as he wrote rightly Anna Prandoni, is part of 4% of Italian sparkling wines that end up in Russia. This means that 96% of the Italian wines that are imported into Russia are not sparkling wines (in this 4% there is not only Lambrusco, but also Prosecco and other lesser known denominations).

So, even if the theme of the export of Lambrusco is an interesting perspective, I would go and look elsewhere for the criterion for choosing the gift.

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Lambrusco: why did Berlusconi give it to Putin? Another key to understanding.

In my opinion, the reason for the choice lies in a very beautiful phrase that Anna Prandoni said: "is understanding of the recipient ". In the Soviet Union, Stalin had launched an ambitious program which aimed to make wine a democratic good within everyone's reach. To do this, instead of drinking only imported wine, it was necessary to make wine in Russia. Russian scientists of the time created high-yielding frost-resistant vines, but wines made with these grapes were poor. This is how the first sweet and sweet wines were born: sugar was added to cover the "gustoaccio" and terrible acidity.

The Soviet taste is historically molded on a sweet red wine - a simple, sweet local wine for the people and a quality wine from neighboring Georgia for the elite. Stalin himself, for himself, chose Khvanchkara, a semi-sweet red wine with a low alcohol content and a strong scent of raspberry. 

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Also in my opinion, therefore, Lambrusco can be a choice dictated by the knowledge of the recipient: a sweet red wine with a low alcohol content of sparkling or sparkling wine (a plus in Russia) that can recall the Soviet style. But I see an implied message for Putin: we can be similar, we can have similar goals. So I see more of a diplomatic / political operation that doesn't look so much at the container, but focuses on the content. After all, Berlusconi has said several times that the goal of his friend Putin is to establish a government of good people in Ukraine ...

Did she write it to him in the sweetest letter?



PS If you are interested in reading more about the Italian wine market in Russia I suggest you read this article "Ukraine Russia: what will change for wine?".

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