Interview | Roman Dabrowski

Roman Dabrowski, Ardi (Polonia)

Which is the potentiality of the Italian wine in your market?

Italian wines, in general, enjoy a relatively high status in Poland. Since the wine market here is developing, and Poland lacks wine-making and wine –drinking tradition the entire wine culture is largely starting from scratch. Throughout most of the late XXth century people in Poland drank mostly rather poor quality wines from the former USSR and other soviet block countries, such as Hungary and Romania. The great changes in 1989-1991 also opened up the possibility for polish people to actually discover all the great wines from Italy, France, Spain and the so called “new world”, but the aforementioned lack of wine-drinking culture, and the memory of the poor quality of the USSR and soviet block wines, along with a stereotype that good wine is only for very rich and snobby people, meant that popularity of quality wine in general was not really that huge. During the last 25 years though wine consumption in Poland skyrocketed, damaging stereotypes are slowly dissolving, and people start to realize the joys of great wine. In that context Italian wines have a great reputation as truly high quality wines, in the same boat as French and Spanish wines. With the entire market growing, and wine culture slowly growing with it, the potential for Italian wines in Poland is looking quite bright.

Could you tell me which is/are the new popular wine(s) in your market? (Italian or not)

As I mentioned before Polish wine market along with wine culture is still largely in development. There are people who already do know something about wine and casual wine drinkers, who don’t know that much about it, and this second group is a grand majority. For the first group trends in global wine production do matter, and these people mostly drink similar wines, that people in other European states such as Great Britain or Germany, some follow Parker’s advice closely, some do not and try to discover interesting things on their own. For these people the classic Italian wines such as Barolo, Valpolicella, Brunello etc. need no introductions and remain well liked and popular. On the other end though we have the “casuals”. In Poland these people do not know much about wine varieties and regions, and they care a lot about the price tag. These “casual” wine drinkers also have a tendency (a declining tendency, but still present) to expect low acidity and low tannin levels in wine, they want a soft, easy drinking, semi-dry and rather cheap wine. For that reason recently there was a surge in popularity of primitive wines from Puglia, and for that reason year in and year out lambrusco sells quite well during the summer, this year we also experienced a surge in popularity of Prosecco. For the same reason very standardized Chilean wines are rather popular in Poland, and, in recent years, softer Vinho Verde.

How do you think the Italian producers could improve the perception of Italian wine in your market?

This is actually a rather difficult question. In my personal opinion the perception is already really good. A crucial element is spreading as much information as you can about the wine as possible to educate Polish wine drinkers. Wineries websites in Polish, or at the very least English, would help people to find out more about the actual wineries, the region, the grape varieties. Some additional, basic information about the region, its rich history and specific characteristics on the back label could also help spread knowledge. Basically, in my opinion, investing in promoting wine culture and the knowledge about wine in Poland is the best way to improve perception of such a rich and grand wine making tradition like Italy has.

What do you think about wine rating in the main guides? Could it helps to sell the wine?

Sure. Wine enthusiats in Poland read mostly the same guides everyone else in Europe is reading, and good rating never hurt anyone. It is espacially important for pricier labels, as those have a much lesser chance of being interesting for the aforementioned “casual” consumer, and thus are mostly aimed for the enthusiasts, who have a higher chance of reading guides.

What about the wine knowledge of consumers in your market? Which is the trend?

I actually already talked about that briefly in some of the questions above, but polish wine market and polish wine culture, are deffinitly growing. The last 25 years have seen a very large growth in wine sales, and, naturally, knowledge and wine culture spans for this rise in sales. More people drinking wine obviously mean more people becoming interested in it and raising their expectations. We have a ton of wine blogs in polish on the internet for example, and their popularity is growing as is the need for more information. So that is the trend, the state is a different thing. Most polish people still are a very “casual” wine drinker variety and their knowledge about wine is low, very low or non-existent. This is still the largest problem in our market as people look first and foremost towards price, as they dont think they would “see any difference” if they bought something better.