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And talking about Prosecco being more popular in first tier cities in China especially how has the Prosecco sales in China grown in the past, let's say, five or ten years?
Obviously, I know there is a pandemic, but before that what was the growth trajectory.
Pre-pandemic we remember in 2019, we were doing quite well, around 20, 25% of growth. It was really good. The market was very much matured, but still a lot of people were actually picking prosecco, or especially hotels and restaurants as a free floor products or also cocktail products. For example, spritz took over pretty much in the Shanghai quite well, yeah. So it…we’re quite happy with the trend.
Actually you talk about spritz, do you think the increasing popularity of spirits or just using Prosecco to mix a cocktail? Do you think that trend contributed to the growth in Prosecco sales?
I do believe that is a factor to count in because definitely if you want to make the real spitz, the real spritz is made of prosecco obviously.
So if the people are actually interested to try the spritz and they like it, of course restaurants, hotels, bars, they need more prosecco to do that. So it's a very, very connected factor to count in.
Okay. And Mikelino, what do you see? You mostly sell to end consumers or also to business.
Well, business is still more than 50% of my market mix, of my sales mix. And consumers are growing because there is also shortening of the supply chain. So the people like to go more direct in a direct source, so that if you are the importer, they like to talk to you directly more and more.
This also helps the growth of the consumption and the trade. My trend is a little bit different, I'm more connected to the micro texture of the market, for example, I was less influenced by the recent events of the pandemic.
I heard that your end consumers buying more.
My end consumers are buying more, yes.
We are doing well, I mean, just the only channel is growing, so the others are stable.
The prosecco is also very connected to the restaurant channels, so actually what we hope is that people can join more and more the restaurant life and this will help the sales to pick up again, especially like this the mixology with the cocktails what you mentioned. It's a driver for prosecco, it's a driver for many other drinks; it’s the driver for the wine, the icon consumption. It's a big, big movement in China now.
And bringing in the social aspect of having that drink, Prosecco is a social drink, unlike perhaps some other drinks where you can imagine yourself just staying at home, having a little bit of scotch on your own, but prosecco is more like you know you talk and you drink that imagery.
And then I know that you're both involved in a lot of events. You probably also hosted or organized lots of different events to promote wine or to prosecco. At these vents, how were you say collaborate with organizations like prosecco DOC Consortium like Casa Prosecco? How does it work?
It works. There's a huge part is the communication that Casa Prosecco and Consortium does in China through like a program like this one or the publications. And then there’s a lot of offline events that involve… could be for consumers or could be for professional, depends.
These are involving also brands. This is the perfect way to go on developing the market. You have to, as Matteo say that you have to educate people, and to educate the people, you have to open those bottles, you have to let them taste wines, to try more wines, and start recognizing the differences.
This is for consumers, even professional people are, in the very end, they also are consumers. So knowing the characteristics, so when I go for events, when I participate in events organized by Prosecco, I go and I try different kind of wine, I try maybe dryer or less dryer profile aromatic profiles of the prosecco.
And for this I can have an idea, ok this can work maybe better in a certain segment of the market. So for example, many consumers if it's a pretty Chinese oriented market, they like a little bit more sugar inside, so an extra dry with maybe 10, 12 grams, 15 grams of sugar.
Specific taste preference.
Specific taste. When you talk to Europeans, you talk to foreigners, and you talk to Italians, and especially people like drink more brut or extra brut, especially before the eating.
This is actually really an interesting trend, like Mikelino said, usually wine amateurs, they go for always the driest options, or newbies that want to approach in this case prosecco, I would say go for extra dry because it's the easiest one to understand and to get to know the prosecco first.
Because if you start ready with a dry version, like brut or extra brut, brut extra, you're gonna find that very, very sharp wine, very cynic, very mineral, very … usually the thing is that's the one that to be a professional looking for, because that's true like core of what’s driven wine...
With my experience in champagne is the same thing.
I think I'm getting a little bit confused here. Did you say that because I thought you were saying the experts they are going to go for the driest option and the beginners are gonna go for less dry option. Is that correct or I might understanding it differently?
No, that's correct.
Ok, because you said beginners will go for extra dry.
I think you should be our guest for the next the educational session on prosecco, the definition is a little bit confusing sometime.
Because the driest in terms of sugar, the lowest sugar level is called brut or extra brut, B-r-u-t.
Extra brut, yes.
When you say extra dry that means that its sugar level is…
It’s the highest.
Yeah, the highest is dry, dry is over 15 grams of sugar.
It's not the highest, it’s Demi-Sec actually.
It's confusing, like the minimum that the driest one is a brut nature, yeah. Then you have extra brut, then you have brut, then you have extra dry and...
Then you have dry. Yes.
So Extra Dry doesn't mean “extra dry” actually.
It means semi-dry.
If you try a dry prosecco, it’s gonna be sweet.
It's gonna be very sweet.
So if you wanted dry, you have to go for brut.
This is really confusing.
Beginners can get really confused.
But this is also for champagne, for any kind of sparkling wine.
Every, every sparkling wine.
This is the division of the characterization.
Honestly, I think if you're talking about consumer education, this is a good place to start, at least we will get to learn the different levels of dryness.
It happens in every wine, not just prosecco of course, there are some people that ask for like Chardonnay, but they don't like Chablis, and Chablis is made with Chardonnay.
Or sometimes they like Chablis wines, but they don't like Chardonnay.
So that's this type of confusing things also happens everywhere, not just in prosecco. So I think again education, basic education is very important.
90% of the prosecco I sell is extra dry which means with a little bit of sugar inside with 10 to 15 grams of sugar, so a little bit sweetish.
And when the people ask me about something else, I present brut or extra brut, I say okay, this is how we drink it in Italy, also to recognize to that culture of aperitivo and La Dolce Vita, as you prefer to colleague.
So like if people really want to have an experience of what we taste, what we drink, and what we like there, and then I advise them… so I have also extra brut because I have a lot of foreign clients and they like something drier.
But what moves the volumes in China is a sugar level between10 and 15 grams. Mainly 15.
I see. Ok. Since we're on the topic of educating consumers which I serve as a perfect example that you really do need to educate consumers, but how do you plan to continue to educate consumers?
I connect this with my experience that I had in the past both in China with the other categorization and other regions, wine region in the world that work pretty well.
So I think the future is to first be connected with the educational organizations in China. There are actually few of them. They are really famous, and also some masters of wines as well.
So they organize classes, online classes, live streaming, and also they do collaborate with the organizations or consortiums from different countries. And they can have a lot the knowledge and educational specific products, specific region. Then of course will drive the sales definitely.
First the knowledge and second sales. It would take sometimes but as witness myself, with other products, it works, it takes time but if you do it constantly, if you collaborate with these organizations constantly, it can help a lot.
Collaborating with these organizations and probably hosting like tasting events for consumers, maybe beginners as well.
Yeah, but they do this organization to do taste events and do master class, the things they have a big follower base as well, and follow them specifically for the wine education. That's the best way, in my opinion, one of the best ways.
Mikelino, so what do you see in the future as an importer like how would you continue to educate consumers about prosecco?
Definitely going on exactly with this trend of tastings and education, education is the key for everything, not just for wine, the more you know, the more you can choose; and the more you can choose, the more also you can appreciate.
I see a trend for the growth connected to the restaurant business, the majority of the best cocktail bars, best wine bars now in shanghai are fully organized and managed by locals.
And this is a movement that is already heating the other cities. It was a while I didn't visit Beijing and since I visited, I found so many new bars like the trend in shanghai
So many new ones.
Yeah, wine bars and more much more offered, so the landscape, the drinking landscape is changing from beer to wine definitely, and also strong spirits to wine.
What I personally also try to do with my clients is also to let them be comfortable that you don't have to be a sommelier, to understand why you don't have to have a complete knowledge or perfect knowledge to enjoy glass of wine. And I encourage them to find their way their own taste to know themselves, to know what they like. Hopefully they would like more prosecco, Prosecco is my main item, so the more prosecco develops in China, the better it is also for me.
But I see there is a naturality in people to like it for the reason we say you know, it's easy drinking…
Yeah, it's easier drinking. It's just to me, I guess as someone who likes to drink wine, but who doesn't really know that much about wine, prosecco, just to me, it's just more approachable in a way;
if we're drinking like the big wines, the very fine wines and then, I feel like my palate is not evolved enough to really appreciate that, and it's sort of intimidating to do that.
But if it's more easier drinking wine, if it's things like bubbling, for me, it's just overall more pleasant experience to start with, I think a lot of… especially women, in beginner wine appreciation, this is perhaps the way to go.
Yeah, for this. I see a bright future which I see a bright future because it's an excellent starting point for learning, not just for opening the dinner, but just also for learning about wine, and I see that many people then stay, we love it for a longer time.
Absolutely. All right, I think we're gonna wrap up here. Certainly I’ve learned so much more, and most importantly, you two were also giving me a wine education, not just educating me about the industry, but also introducing the whole idea that confused me for years about the dry and brut.
I think it should be the right time now to go for a glass of prosecco or as we say in Venice to get repair of a shadow, to have a… to drink the shadow we say now, maybe Matteo can explain a little bit better because he comes from there.
To drink the shadow, what does that mean?
Andemo bever un’ombra
So from my hometown which again is Valdobbiadene, you should come because it's an amazing town very beautiful, unique by the way. So we say usually in our own dialect where we want to ask someone to go and have a drink. We say “Andemo bever un’ombra”, which means literally “do you wanna drink a shadow?”
Because ‘ombra’ in Italian language means ‘shadow’, that's come from like back in the days when people used to work during the day a lot on the farms, on the fields, and especially during summer, when they need to have a break, then they’ll actually go and sits underneath the shades of a tree. And then they were like a let's have a glass of prosecco back in the day, and then that expression, glass of wine drink became the mutate into shadow.
So almost a let's get a shadow. So basically at one point it was like okay, guys, yeah, Andemo bever un’ombra, so it was like going under the shadow of the tree.
If someone offers you an ombra, if someone offers you to take some shadow, it's actually asking you to have a glass of wine, nothing else.
That's an interesting saying.
It's very, very local.
It's just to finish because you mentioned before let’s have a wine break. Back in the day, our grandparents used to have breakfast with a glass of prosecco and sandwich with salami and cheese sometimes, I mean I’ve seen that.
True, I still do it.
It's… we call it the “la colazione dei campioni”, the breakfast of the champions.
The breakfast of the champions, I've heard about that.
And on that note, we're gonna wrap up here. Thank you very much, both of you for coming to the studio and sharing with us all these wonderful facts about and experience about prosecco and just general Italian lifestyle.
Now let's take a wine break.
Thank you Lulu.
Thank you Lulu.