European wine producers have deplored the growing tendency to reduce wine to a simple alcoholic drink, consumed in vast quantities with no appreciation of the product. They are launching a programme to help promote the cultural dimension of wine and contribute to the EU goal of reducing alcohol abuse.
“It is of our role to spread the message of moderation, to teach how to taste and appreciate our wines. In one word: to promote responsible consumption,” said Xavier de Volontat, president of the European Confederation of Independent Winegrowers (CEVI) launching the CEVI programme on Wine in Moderation – Art de Vivre on 18 March 2008.
He deplored that the fine territorial product is being increasingly reduced to a simple alcoholic drink, something he claims “denies the cultural dimension of the wine”.
The European wine sector’s new information campaign aims to encourage moderation and responsibility in the consumption of wine, with a view to contributing to the EU strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm (see EURACTIV 25/10/2006).
“Of course it’s possible to enjoy life without alcohol,” said Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel addressing the launch conference. She added: “Nevertheless, wine is buried deep in Europe’s sense of identity. It was there in the culture of ancient Greece, it spread with the Roman empire, and today, it contributes some €15 billion a year to the EU economy.”
“We don’t yet measure wine’s contribution to world happiness,” Boel continued, noting that the new CEVI programme, as well as the EU’s wine sector reform, represent an opportunity to raise awareness on the health benefits of moderate wine consumption.
However, she also acknowledged that alcohol abuse in Europe is real and it must be taken seriously. Whereas southern European countries are now drinking less wine, Boel noted that many central and northern European countries are drinking more and that binge drinking has become worrying, particularly among young people.
According to the Commission, in some EU countries, 38% of males describe themselves as weekly binge drinkers. What’s more, harmful alcohol consumption is estimated to be responsible for some 200,000 deaths a year in the EU through, for example, accidents, liver disease and cancer.
Late last year, the European Alcohol and Health Forum, an alcohol stakeholder platform established in June 2007, published its first series of commitments aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm. The first annual open EU forum on alcohol and health will take place 17 April 2008. It will present the concrete outcomes of the stakeholder platform and allow non-members of the platform to suggest further action.