Open Access
BIO Web Conf.
Volume 56, 2023
43rd World Congress of Vine and Wine
Article Number 03009
Number of page(s) 7
Section Economy and Law
Published online 24 February 2023

© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023

Licence Creative CommonsThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (

1 Introduction

The condensation of economic globalization, the generalization of an analogical blackout, and the advancement and hegemony of digitization characterized the 21st century. This change experienced worldwide has given way to the derailment of the scale of values, the impoverishment of the transmission of cultural knowledge, and the lack of identity.

To understand the “wine phenomenon” and its pathway, it is essential to understand the basic elements of human behavior.

People must have “meaning” in their relations with events, that is, among objects, people, institutions, events, and more. Social openness1 is the basis of identity, and any perception is meaningful because it calls to mind the relationships between it and our needs.

Adult behavior is the consequence of childhood perception and imitation, shared by their social group develops the group membership. An Italian, French, or Spanish child will associate wine with a “parental drink.”

2 Key moments in the history of wine and diffusion

Key moments:

  • Domestication of the vine in the Fertile Crescent: wine originated as a drink with substantial symbolic and ritual value, linked to the magical universe for itsinebriating capacity;

  • wine spreads through trade routes in the Mediterranean;

  • Rome is the major spreader of vines and wine in the expansion of the empire;

  • Europe's fast-changing and vehemently aware of the movements of the “dark age” of the Middle Ages found in monasteries (Cluny 910, Citeaux 1098, and others)happy islands for the cultivation of the vine, an important sacred-profane heritage of the Christian religion

  • wine, in its symbolism of “Blood of Christ,” became

  • the symbol of the Christian religion. Beginning with the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). In the Council of Trent (1545-1563), transubstantiation became an element of ritual, finally adopted, becoming Church dogma; (Fig. 1)

  • In 1492, the Church Corpus brought the vine to America for indoctrination of the inhabitants of the New World. In 1519, the Spanish Misiones began to spread all over California, and in 1541-1550 in Argentina and Chile;

  • In 1517, Church reform began with Martin Luther. Free preaching from the timeof the Holy Roman Empire affirmed the right of all to read and interpret the Bible. Protestantism advocates consubstantiation in place of transubstantiation; wine and bread retain their physical nature losing their sacredness and remaining only a sign value. This event will determine the current discrepancy in wine market paradigms;

  • In 1619, England brought the vine to northeastern North America;

  • Vine reached the colonies of South Africa in 1655 and Australia in 1788.

Three countries - the cradles of the significant majority varietal heritage have played a crucial role in the spread of the grapevine: Italy, France, and Spain, which stand out as wine civilizations as social markers.

Other countries, in recent times, have adopted wine for contact with European culture and mediation with the market, but they do not have it intrinsically in the cultural algorithm that unites symbols, values, and cultural identity.

There is a cultural drinking connection for every country, China with baijiu, Japan with sake, Mexico with tequila, Ireland and England with whiskey, Russia with vodka, and the Caribbean with rum.

Therefore, wine has an identity and symbolic value and is a social marker.

thumbnail Figure 1.

Major diffusion route of viticulture in southwest Asia and Euope (De Blij, 1983, reproduced by permission).

3 The changing lifestyles

Until the 1950s, the wine civilization thrived on thousands of years of stratification and codification. The wine was a beverage with mythical and symbolic content for all social strata and defined cultural conditioning. Therefore, wine was not just any drink; it had a "niche" value, so it stood out from the standard beverages.

The analog society mediated information using symbols and is deeply rooted in cultural heritage.

These principles, despite their validity, changed with the latest social transformations, encountered fragmented identity, and are characterized by a lack of stability (Bauman, 2005) due to “politically correct” and the disappearance of the intersubjective world (Fig. 2 and Table 1).

Wine, in the digital society, moves in an immediate society, constructing concepts without fundamental knowledge of the wine reality, making easy prey to misinformation through fake news or documents that are far above the daily work in the vineyards; many decisions and actions not respecting the identity of the territory.

Fromm (1967) describes identity from the concept of social behavior created for systems values and socialization processes. In the Middle Ages, characterized by the curtense economy, people were used to submission to authority and respect for the powerful; in the Industrial Revolution, people were motivated to work and economic gain, disciplined, punctual, and thrifty; in postwar capitalism, people are essentially motivated to consume. Today's neoliberal capitalism produces a human being with a fragmented and liquid structure and identity since he is mainly dependent on personal success, a success often alien to him and controlled by the media. In conclusion, we live in identity nomadism.

Identity and belonging to a human group are the two most essential needs of human beings. They arise from experience and the network of interdependence with one's sphere, forming personal character in a functional context specific to each person and each human group. In today's globalization, the influence of the media controls people's identity and economic values imposed on people without a choice; the “thumbs up” determines voting and dilutes the ability to plan for the future. From this event, collective memory is formed (Ovejero, 2010).

The web has appropriated the “vital self” and “Pareto’s ofelimity,” that is, the ability to satisfy individual needs with goods or services.

thumbnail Figure 2.

Brand Values. Differences between the analog and digital worlds. Man has lost free will and relies on the web, social media services, and on line social networks.

Table 1

Brand values and example of richness of market actors.

4 Paradigms and models

As defined by its history and identity, wine has created a model that affirms Denominations of Origin and Collective Brands.

France, in 1919, as a response to the need to regulate the wine market and the difficulties of the wine industry undermined by overproduction and fraud, created the “Appellation d'Origine” (AOC); in 1935, the “Appellation d'Origine Contrôlèe,” the basis since 1970 of European regulations and OIV member states.

They characterize the different types of wine with the soul of typicity, translated into the triptych “local, loyal, and constant.” Clear advocacy in defense of the patrimonial wealth resulting from the experience and knowledge of man and the territory, i.e., pedoclimate, varieties, and culture (Terroir) and determining appellations of origin as a cultural heritage and collective brand (owned by producers in France and Spain, in Italy owned by the state) that does not preclude experimentation but does not accept ex Novo creations and commercial fantasies, e.g., wines with marijuana, multicolored wines, wine-based Ready to Drink drinks.

The model established on consubstantiation, in which wine loses its symbolic values and sacredness, has created a version based on mercantilism and wine pricing (Fig. 3, right of the diagram).

thumbnail Figure 3.

Wine market paradigms and models.

5 The “Terroir”

France coined the word Terroir to define the identity of each wine historically linked to a specific wine-growing region (Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux) by creating a link between soil, topography, climate, flora and fauna, variety, tradition, viticulture, and production techniques. Winemakers have meticulously identified and chosen the ways of technical vineyard management and winemaking over very long periods (in many cases, we are talking centuries) to determine the excellence of wine produced in each plot, defining the Cru, AOC, and AOCC.

In Italy, between 300 and 1000, the nobility contributed to the spread and preservation of viticulture after the monks. The Frescobaldi family and the Incisa Della Rochetta family have been wine producers since the early 14th century. Marchesi Antinori family since 1385, the Della Gherardesca family since 1500, the Cinzano family since 1568, and many others have experimented with vine cultivation by adapting it to the place; enology has achieved high-quality wines; marketing has devoted time and money to the international recognition of wines from the specific area of origin.

In 1861, with the Unification of Italy, an effort was made to define Italian wine to protect production areas. In 1930, typical wines were determined and classified into “Speciali, Superiori e Fini” (Special, Superior and Fine).

In 1930, the Denominazione d'Origine was created, proposing the first production specifications to obtain a quality product, strengthening the link with the territory, the codification of wines that for centuries had been produced with techniques that began in the vineyard and ended in the bottle, such as the “Governo all’uso Toscano” as a Tuscany method dating back to the late 18th century, codified by Bettino Ricasoli and today the basis of Chianti Classico.

Terroir can be a reality in countries that have a well-defined area known in detail by the winemaker. Usually organized into cooperatives and Protection Consortia, the “large” holdings guarantee the expression of typicality, especially in defense of the local varietal heritage. In France, the average holding is 6.68 ha, Spain 2.68, and Italy 1.70. In France, holdings of more than 10 ha are 28.5 percent, in Spain 5.6 percent, and in Italy 2.6 percent.

Terroir has economic, cultural, environmental, and social sustainability (Fig. 4).

The same approach is not always possible in other wine regions. Emerging wine districts in the New World do not have an established wine history to have the ability to define a terroir. (A. Capurso2) Furthermore, subject themselves to the rules of the global market and are extensively cultivated, and it is not difficult to find companies that count on vast areas, such as Concha and Toro (10,800 ha); that have marketing policies that incorporate many companies such as Gallo Wines that works in 100 countries and with colossal portfolios. Bulk or mass-produced wines do not express Terroir; their goal is to be palatable to a broad audience at a relatively low price. Grapes are grown to maximize yield and minimize production costs.

The Phygital blockchain, a technology for large production masses, admits that artificial intelligence, 3D AG (image recognition), and big data manage large-scale productions, consumer information, and control of the entire wine cycle from the origin of raw materials to proper disposal only in a QR code. Swiss Wines has a pilot project in the German-speaking cantons, run with interprofessional money because no producer would be able to afford it.

On the other hand, mega-companies work to present in their collection iconic products to have a foothold in the Gotha galaxy of wines.

thumbnail Figure 4.

Terroir has economic, cultural, environmental and social sustainability.

6 The markets of multinational food corporations and wine

It is essential to have a view of the industries in the agribusiness sector today to realize the magnitudes of this universe compared to the wine industry (Table 2).

The wine industry can be included in the 'universe of food multinationals only if they are enterprises that produce significant volumes of wine, which generally reflect the wine-commodities segment and can meet the demand of the large-scale retail trade or HO.RE.CA3 channels.

The characteristics of the multinational enterprise are as follows:

  • they are increasingly large (Global Company);

  • they are registered on the stock exchange to have access to capital because SpA;

  • they dialogue with the large-scale retail trade4 on a global level;

  • they have well-known brands;

  • they have the central enterprise based in low-tax countries;

  • they play on chains of semi-finished goods (supply- chains);

  • raw materials (commodities) have minimal impact on their balance sheet.

While other beverages have countless daily production cycles, wine, unless drawn from different countries and situations, has to respond to a single annual harvest and winemaking, which often has to remain in the cellar for aging. So wine is a “niche” beverage with billing within certain limits.

In the wine sector, productions may include wines blended with other products such as flavorings (Vermouth), juices (Ready to Drink), different colors (Jik, Vindigo, Purple Reign), marijuana (Rebel Coast, Saka Pink), dealcoholized wines, which do not fall under the definition of “wine.”5

A more concentrated analysis of the wine market (Table 2) clearly shows that the top firms reflect the market characteristics of agribusiness multinationals. Private or publicly traded firms are the majority on the list. They have policies aimed at encompassing large-scale production by incorporating small-to-medium sized local businesses in different territories and with different marketing objectives. Many of these have umbrella brands with ranges of wines that are “concrete mixer products,” whereby wine “standardized” to the desired commodity type is to be “created.”

In addition to these companies are primary cooperatives that work with a significant number of producers in different territories and various countries to produce a variety of brands, in Italy Cantine Riunite and Gruppo Italiano Vini.

If one analyzes the countries' viticulture in detail, it is evident that the financiers take over, acquiring wineries with well-known brands, creating a “Chinese jerk” system. Figure 5 shows the Italian situation as an example.

The winemaker, again, is only a tiny pawn in production.

In this universe, selling wine on web platforms since 2013 appears to be a novelty. Tannico acquires French e-commerce operator VALAP, becoming the most extensive online wine store.

Figure 6. Civiltà del vino: valori identitari vs. mercato.

Table 2

Multinationals in the agri-food sector – billion €.

Table 3

The World’s Leading companies in the wine industry - in billion €.

thumbnail Figure 5.

The example of Italy: financials have at the upper hand.

thumbnail Figure 6.

Wine civilization: identity values vs. market.

7 Covid accelerated market changes

The Covid pandemic quarantine or lockdown changed the market outlook worldwide. Wineries maintained sales through video conferencing, e-commerce, and digital marketing, increasing the DTC6.

Countries already assuming the basics of the virtual marketplace only had to "jump on the runaway train" by offering Web 3.0 technology and opening up to engaging the new generation of consumers by responding to their desires and extending their purchases through the new sales patterns.

In addition to identity, as mentioned earlier, the market is also beginning to become “liquid.” Will this be the market trend in the coming years?

Large firms such as Treasury Wine Estates and Constellation Brands have brought NFTs7, online, adapting the technology to cryptocurrencies. Based on the blockchain, these crypto-assets cannot be substituted and traded; they can be old with Bitcoin or Ethereum cryptocurrencies.

The “metaverse” 8built-in reality is a virtual game of “democratization of desires.”

A major cultural shift occurs due to new generations approaching the wine industry with medium to large wineries. The company's technicians and staff manage the vineyards’ cultivation and enology. The new generations to receive the baton have experienced globalization, the principles of virtual games that are the basis of the metaverse, and a generally declining educational tenor.

Generation X, “no plow, no sow, no harvest,” manage export activities and social media platforms presenting wine to top influencers and trendsetters, snubbing as “ancient” and “invisible” the generation that put wine on the market and made it known.

A virtual world with no real sustainability, no identity, and no culture pays lip service to protecting the environment and does not connect with other winemakers in the area.

The danger lies in a polarization that establishes most wine as a commodity, leaving minimal volume for wines connected as “terroir” with iconic recognition.

8 Conclusions

Based on the wine news obtained from 2020 to 2022, a distribution on Cartesian axes appears to reflect the Wine World (Fig. 6).

The algorithm (Table 4) is developed based on daily news reported on major wine websites and blogs such as IV News, Vitisphere, Weekly Wrap, Wine Business Monthly, Daily News, and others, ranked in six categories - market, product, generation, influencer, culture, and others - and valued in a schedule from -10 to 10 was assigned for the two parameters: market and identity values.

The variables move away from market and identity values in the green grouping; those respond to sustainability, resilience, and terroir in the red and orange ones.

The civilization of wine seems to be over, giving way to civilization without values, symbols, and identity, making wine another beverage of the globalized market. In the name of environmental defense, poorly managed vineyards planted will not have a viable period beyond 30 years, with little knowledge of local varieties. The search for varieties that are market winners is thinning the richness of the viticultural gene pool, e.s “Prosecco” phenomenon already eroded by the lack of knowledge of opinion leaders.

Dionysus is a victim of the “cancel culture”? Is Bacchus inside the “silent culture”?

Trying to arrest this drift in wine civility, we need to work on that part of the new generations of winemakers who are already beginning to produce better and enhance the wines of their terroirs in union with their territories.

Some of them are also already doing this in tune with the needs of young consumers, who are interested in wine not only as a beverage but above all as a sustainable product and bearer of historical, cultural, and identity values that must also emerge from a new narrative, made up of less advertising but at the same time more timely and effective.

Table 4

Wine civilization algorithm.



Openness refers to "accessibility of knowledge, technology and others resources; the transparency of action; the permeability of organisational structures, and the inclusiveness of participation".


Hotel - Restaurant - Catering.




OIV DEFINITION 3 Wines. 3.1 Basic Definition Wine is the beverage resulting exclusively from the partial or complete alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether crushed or not, or of grape must. Its actualalcohol content shall not be less than 8.5% vol.

Nevertheless, taking into account climate, soil, vine variety, special qualitative factors or traditions specific to certain vineyards, the minimum total alcohol content may be able to be reduced to 7% vol. by legislation particular to the region considered.


Direct to Consumer.


NFT (Non Fungible Token) stands for "non-fungible token." At a basic level, an NFT is a digital asset that links ownership to unique physical or digital objects, such as artwork, real estate, music, or video.


The metaverse is a three-dimensional space within which physical people can move, share and interact. A virtual living environment superimposed on the physical world of real life. These are tools such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), superfast connections, and blockchain, as well as an incalculable amount of data and information. Three-dimensional avatars with a nickname or moniker represent the Users.

All Tables

Table 1

Brand values and example of richness of market actors.

Table 2

Multinationals in the agri-food sector – billion €.

Table 3

The World’s Leading companies in the wine industry - in billion €.

Table 4

Wine civilization algorithm.

All Figures

thumbnail Figure 1.

Major diffusion route of viticulture in southwest Asia and Euope (De Blij, 1983, reproduced by permission).

In the text
thumbnail Figure 2.

Brand Values. Differences between the analog and digital worlds. Man has lost free will and relies on the web, social media services, and on line social networks.

In the text
thumbnail Figure 3.

Wine market paradigms and models.

In the text
thumbnail Figure 4.

Terroir has economic, cultural, environmental and social sustainability.

In the text
thumbnail Figure 5.

The example of Italy: financials have at the upper hand.

In the text
thumbnail Figure 6.

Wine civilization: identity values vs. market.

In the text

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