Wine & Other Stories

Wine health warning labels: Interview with Nicola Angiuli

Written by Veronica Lavenia

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The wine health warning labels, which will come into force in Ireland, with the approval of the European Union, reporting the serious damage to health of alcohol consumption, mark a historic turning point in the field of communication and marketing of wine.

Alcohol abuse is one of the scourges of contemporary times and it is not by shouting at the scandal, with respect to a decision, probably in the future concerning all the countries of the European Union, that the issue will be resolved.

The new millennium is bringing with it changes of various kinds and on different fronts. Rapid changes that require the ability to adapt and a society that also needs to be educated about certain types of consumption. Wine is among these, although certain assessments and consequent measures should not, in my humble opinion, concern only the food sector but also, for example, the immoderate use of a technology which, if not used correctly, plays a crucial role of disinformation.

In my article on the subject, I shared some reflections concerning the role that communication should have not tomorrow but today (indeed, yesterday).

I asked Nicola Angiuli, an importer of Italian wines in the USA for his point of view. Nicola Angiuli has thirty years of experience and the vision of an entrepreneur who operates in a society, such as the United States, which is highly competitive and whose wine market remains of crucial importance for entrepreneurs in the sector.

© Nicola Angiuli

Nicola, as an expert in the sector, although your reference country is the United States, how do you think the approach to selling wine in Ireland could change for your colleagues?

It certainly won’t be easy. People generally remember more of the negative than the positive, unfortunately. In addition, the wine sector is suffering as a result of excessive consumption by the Irish of spirits and other alcoholic beverages, far exceeding the consumption of wine.

I personally believe that it is always the politicians who ruin countries and we have been making the same mistakes since Roman times. We never learn. Never be that politician who says something or thinks of adding a negative sentence on the labels on carbonated drinks, like soda, which actually contain substances that are really bad for the human body.

Before a new scientific study that sanctioned its “serious damage to health”, wine, according to as much recent scientific researche, had even beneficial effects on health (of course, always in moderate doses). What do you think about this radical change of thinking? Isn’t it at least paradoxical that a product (which cannot be abused) suddenly becomes not recommended, not even once and in moderate doses (also according to the statements made by many Italian epidemiologists)?

It seems strange to me, yes. Why don’t we talk, for example, of Sardinia instead, where the average age of those who drink Cannonau is the longest in the world? Or those who consume Negroamaro or Tannat, just to mention a few vines among the many subjects of various studies, which show that if drunk in moderation they are good for health. If I start listing all the benefits of wine, I could write a book.

This is certainly a path that will lead to further damage, because people who start to believe in all these extreme studies, not having an open mind, will stop drinking any alcohol, even in moderation, replacing it with drinks full of sugars, which according to many studies underlie many health ailments. But no carbonated drink comes with a health warning!

© Nicola Angiuli

If, as the European Union hopes, an action plan aimed at reducing the consumption of potentially carcinogenic foods and beverages (including wine) will have to be launched by 2025, what changes can be expected in the way European wine is sold abroad and Italian in particular?

Here too we get into politics. Any excess is bad, even drinking too much water.

I think this will ruin not only sales abroad, but also tourism in Italy: many tourists come to Italy not only for fashion, the sea, our museums and natural beauties, but also and above all for the combination of our food with our wines. For us, wine is part of the meal, it is not a simple drink.

©Nicola Angiuli

Don’t you think that the European policy on the subject will mainly facilitate local wines or those from overseas not subject to such regulation within the US market? If yes, to what extent?

At the moment I don’t think so. The labels for the American market are different and both American and foreign ones follow the same rules. I do not exclude that America in the future will not copy Europe and yes, there will be damage. At that point, however, local wines will also be affected because they will have to follow the same rules.

However, the typical American does not follow European politics very much, unlike the typical European who is much more informed about what is happening in America, so perhaps there will be fewer proposals and pressures to copy these laws.

© Nicola Angiuli- FRANCOLI USA

The risk on the part of the average, occasional consumer, who nonetheless has weight on the market, is that he no longer considers the wine product attractive even as a gift idea. A bottle of wine, especially if expensive, clearly bearing the wording “It seriously harms your health” is certainly not an invitation to buy. What will be the approach on the subject by importers in the near future?

Before the turn of the century, we were more influenced by advertising than today, whether it was a sponsor on Formula 1, an advertisement in a magazine, or a billboard. Today, however, things have changed and we are also influenced by social media and the web. My proposal is to use digital technology to create the idea that giving wine as a gift is always trendy, especially for special occasions. Of course, any writing will not help but we can try to reverse this image. Cigars come to mind, they too have the words “seriously harmful to health” on the box, but, also thanks to certain advertisements, specialized magazines and the internet are always a perfect gift for important occasions.

If a politician were to read this article, I would like to give him some advice: instead of writing “it is seriously harmful to health”, why not write that “an excess of one liter a day is harmful to health”, thus promoting consumption in moderation?

©Nicola Angiuli

New challenges for the importing profession. I take this opportunity to ask you, in perspective, how do you forecast 2023 for the Italian wine market in the United States.

I met other colleagues and we have good prospects for 2023. We note a slight drop in transport prices, which we hope will drop further. Producers are better prepared to deal with problems such as bottle shortages (which still exist, but are more under control). Furthermore, I always follow the American stock market (hoping that America does not catch a cold, otherwise Europe will catch pneumonia) and it is recovering (SP500 is up +3% from the beginning of the year and NASDAQ is up +10% from the beginning of the year). This is a positive note not only for our industry, but for others as well. Of course, that can always change from moment to moment. Even looking at the failed banks in 2023, the market is holding up well and I, like the majority of us Italians, like to have a winning and positive mentality.

About the author

Veronica Lavenia

Writer, book author and magazine contributor, some of her works have appeared in the most popular International magazines.
Digital Content Manager and Communication Manager at "The Wolf Post", since the birth of the platform.

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