New book aims to be ‘gold standard for Italian wine’

Today sees the official launch of a new book that aims to be the “gold standard for Italian wine”, according to the managing director of Vinitaly International, Stevie Kim.

Running to almost 600 pages, Italian Wine Unplugged uncovers the diverse world of Italian wine according to grape variety

The publication, called Italian Wine Unplugged, is being unveiled today at Bologna’s Eataly World from the Fabrica Italiana Contadina (FICO), which opened its doors this morning.

Speaking to the drinks business on Friday at the HKTDC Wine and Spirits Fair in Hong Kong, Kim said that she believed that the book will become a gold standard for Italian wine, adding that “there has been nothing like it before”.

Running to almost 600 pages, the new tome uncovers the diverse world of Italian wine according to grape variety, containing as many as 440 different types, with a particular focus on 120 “must-know” grapes, according to Kim.

First launched as an e-book in August this year, Kim said that it had been “crowd-sourced”, noting that it was “two years in the making”, having been initially inspired by Ian D’Agata’s Native Wine Grapes of Italy.

“We have taken a lot of Ian’s thoughts and distilled them,” said Kim.

She also recorded what makes her book different, commenting, “Traditionally wine is taught by regional bodies according to geographic areas, but I am trying to teach people about Italian wine from the country’s native grapes.”

Inspired by requests for a simpler teaching aid for introducing people to Italian wine, she began the process of creating Italian Wine Unplugged over two years ago.

“I have created this book because people have asked for it… Italian wine is like the Italian people, it is creative, but very individualistic, and that’s why it’s fragmented and complicated,” she said.

She also told db that there are relatively few experts on Italian wine in the trade, although this is changing.

“Italian wine geeks are very few and far between,” she began.

Continuing, she recorded, “Three years ago, people only knew the three ‘Bs’ – Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello – and not more, but now you find people asking for Pecorino, for example.”

“There is definitely an interest now,” she added.

Speaking specifically about Hong Kong and China, she said that the market for Italian wine was “small”, but the level of enthusiasm for the country’s wares was growing.

“We now have 26 Italian wine ambassadors in China… there is definitely a growing interest in Italian wine – I am cautiously optimistic but it will take at least 5-10 years before the Chinese understand what they’d like to do with Italian wine,” she said.

Continuing, she explained, “Once people get to know wine, naturally they want to try something different – and that’s when Italian wines kick in… but it’s not for those at the beginning [of their wine journey].”

“It has the widest range of varieties, so it’s a natural evolution for wine lovers… you see it in the Chinese – they study and want to know everything about French wines, but as their palate becomes more sophisticated they want to try different things and that’s when they find that Italy has best bang for your buck.”

The book has yet to be translated into Chinese, although Kim told db she was looking for an “authorised publisher” in the country, adding that it is “incredibly complicated” to get the book printed and distributed in mainland China.

FICO Eataly World covers as much as 20 acres comprising 25 restaurants and food stalls and a large market place along with six different food-centric rides – prompting Kim to describe the Bologna-based fair as a Disney Land for food.

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