Slow food and slow wine
The need for change towards a more sustainable world is an issue on the international agenda, which in recent years has become a topic of special interest to public opinion. Among the practices and behaviors that are being promoted in favor of this aspiration, those related to agriculture and food consumption stand out.
Among the current trends in this regard, undoubtedly connected to wine tourism, we cannot fail to mention the slow food and slow wine movements, whose philosophy advocates the enjoyment of food and drink while taking care of the environment.
The global Slow Food organization, whose symbol is a snail, was founded in 1989 “to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, to counteract the rise of fast-paced lifestyles and to combat the general lack of interest in the food we eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us”.
Since then, it has continued to grow and today involves millions of people around the world. It opposes the standardization of taste and culture, as well as the impositions of the food industry and industrial agriculture. According to its notion of quality, food should be good (tasty, fresh, satisfying to the senses and part of the local culture), clean (not harmful to the environment, animal welfare or human health), and fair (accessible to consumers and with fair rewards for producers).
So, in addition to focusing on rational food production, Slow Food proposes a new kind of ecology, where human activity, people’s lifestyles, their way of consuming and traveling are fundamental. In short, it proposes a new way of living and relating to food.
As far as tourism is concerned, the so-called kilometer 0 is used to promote local and regional food consumption. This modality values the connection with the roots of each village visited. It allows visitors to delve into the culinary traditions and customs of the locals, learn about their history, beliefs, ancestral traditions and family roots. By revaluing the local or regional, it is possible to better appreciate the flavors and aromas of each raw material and its products in their place of origin. By learning about local production methods, by being aware of the time and care invested in the production of each food, the act of eating is redefined.
In such a context, the tasting of a food or a drink, more than a momentary individual pleasure, becomes an experience of high symbolic value, the here and now of a unique and exclusive product endowed with the authentic personality of the place where it was born and developed. It makes us meditate and feel in harmony with nature and with other people, and perhaps more in harmony with ourselves.
When it comes to wine in particular, environmental concerns are accentuated, since grape growing is highly sensitive to climate and changes in nature, temperature and rainfall. The constantly evolving conditions under which vines are grown have a significant impact on the final product, and their management requires great expertise. In particular, slow viticulture practice encourages the use of biological alternatives to chemicals, such as compost, prefers manual rather than motorized harvesting, is responsible with water use, is conscious of social as well as environmental sustainability, and promotes ecological activities among its visitors.
Wine tourism should not ignore the trends in defense of the environment. In fact, it is a great opportunity for wineries to publicize the advances in their practices, activities and processes to meet people’s growing expectations of sustainability. In line with the slow food movement, the slow wine movement promotes a greener and fairer economy, with organic or biodynamic agricultural practices. It promotes visits and tastings of wines integrated with the terroir, giving value to the landscape, the work of the people, the history and traditions of the place.
Thus, wine tourism, with its tasting activities, tours, visits to local wine museums, interaction with small local producers, among many others, provides us with a great teaching to take home, and incorporate this knowledge into our daily lives. In addition to making us enjoy unique pleasurable experiences, it gives us the opportunity to change our attitude to reduce our carbon footprint, respect and give more value to local and natural products, and become more aware of our consumption choices.
In short, wine tourism, by its very nature, brings us closer to all these values. Beyond the producers that have different certifications and produce biodynamic wines with natural processes, today all wineries in general are increasingly aware of the care for the environment and the growing value that consumers and visitors place on sustainability. A genuine wine that tastes good, is fairly priced and also reflects sustainability and care for the planet and people is an ideal marketing strategy for these times, and especially for when the younger generations, who are rightly concerned about the care of our common home, join the wine market and wine tourism.