I have just returned from Warsaw, where I went in order to participate in the most important Polish wine event, Grand Prix Magazyn Wino, organized by the magazine by the same name. Over the coming days, I will share photos from and thoughts about the tasting, but first I would like to show you the letter I sent to the journalist Franco Ziliani, who asked me a few months ago for my perspective on Poland and its wine market.
I am happy that for once one is talking about Poland, a nation that in past decades was always exploited, oppressed and undervalued.
I have been following this market since 1999 and I can confirm that the qualitative-quantitative jump of the perception of Italian wine in Poland has been enormous. Only 12 years have passed, but for the new Poland is has been an eternity. The number of importers of alcohol has grown all out of proportion; especially after entry in the EU, the internal demand has increased, the “real socialist” shops selling alcohol were replaced by wine bars and modern enotecas, while the “toxic” Bulgarian wines desired by communism have made way for the best products from Italy. The diehard fans of vodka are little by little converting and becoming committed wine lovers; the credit for this wine revolution is wholly due to the Polish people. We cannot take credit for it; it is all due to the Poles who, with their discretion, silent curiosity and desire to free themselves from a recent past that does not represent them, have thrown themselves body and soul into the passionate world of Italian wine. After the dark years that preceded 1989, the Poles began to travel to Italy, getting to know its wonders. Through wine, Italy made them fall in love and warmed their shy and generous hearts. In a sip of Italic red wine, the Poles are taken back to the monuments, the sunny days, the scents, the flavours and the smiling people, all contributing to make them dream, on long winter nights, virtually eliminating the aesthetic monstrosities inherited from the sad past. I am not talking to you about wine, but about the Poles and their history, because it is the only way to understand why this nation will be, for us producers, a nation in constant growth, faithful, that it will bring us great satisfaction.
I could offer dozens of examples of the historic ties between Italy and Poland, starting with the art patron Bona Sforza, who brought Italian artists to the Cracow court, or the Poles who aided the resistance at Montecassino in the Second World War, or the recent Pope John Paul II, but above all else our unbreakable tie is hidden in our national hymns: in the Italian anthem, in the last verse, which no one remembers, there is a reference to Poland (…The blood of Italy, The Polish blood, Drink, with the Cossack…), and in the Polish one, written by Wybiecki in 1797 in Reggio Emilia, Italy is named (…March, march Dabrowski from Italy to Poland…). After these few historical considerations I would like to return to the present, Poland’s wine journalists are young, passionate, sophisticated and well-trained, all that can only help the healthy circulation of wine culture throughout the whole country. The wine merchants are quite respectful of one another and give the impression, in spite of the recent crisis, of working in a serious and healthy market.
Wine, which for we Italians is culture, finds fertile ground in a new, refined and motivated Poland in search of advancement, a Poland that loves us and wants us, let’s not disappoint it!