Andrew Azzopardi / LinkedIn

Vintage’82 Owner and Founder Andrew Azzopardi on Friday expressed concerns about the “loss of control” between the production of wine to how it reaches consumers.

This comes after the French Government recently decided to spend more than €200 million to destroy surplus wine, with the aim of stopping prices from collapsing so that “winemakers can find sources of revenue again”.

Mr Azzopardi remarked that this decision “doesn’t bode well for the future of mass market wine”, when considering that the product category “keeps losing market share” to other drinks such as beer and spirits.

Various notable regions in the wine industry are facing this demand crisis, with wine sales in Washington State, US dropping by more than 17 per cent from last year, while Australia’s wine exports decreased by a third over the past two years.

“On the other hand, premium and ultra-premium wine continue to perform well. So it’s not wine per se that’s the problem,” Mr Azzopardi said.

“Many have blamed the fact that the younger generation perceive wine as ‘an old persons’ drink’, but I believe that too many entry-level wines simply don’t offer value. The younger generation have a good sense of value for them. Beer and cocktails are simply offering more satisfaction for their buck,” he explained.

Speaking from his own personal experience, even though he does not consider himself as fitting in the younger generation, he does usually opt against choosing wine at corporate events, weddings and gatherings, as he enjoys a beer or cocktail “more than most entry-level wines that are served”.

“So, I definitely cannot blame the younger generation if I do the same thing,” he said.

“One issue is that there is a big loss of control between the production of wine and getting it to the consumer,” he continued.

Mr Azzopardi highlighted that unlike beer, wine does not have an expiry or best before date, making any entry-level wine that is past its best-by date “taste bad and most consumers will not complain for lack of understanding the problem”.

He added that contrary to beer and spirits, wine is also more susceptible to heat stress and bad storage.

“So, whilst beer is not affected by excess heat in summer, wine that is left in a car for a couple of hours in the middle of August will be cooked and ultimately bad,” he remarked.

While wine sellers, such as wholesalers, shops, restaurants, bars and hotels, ultimately have the responsibility to control the problem, “the consumer is very much at their mercy”.

He concluded by proposing the idea of introducing a drink-by date on the bottles of entry-level wines, in a bid to minimise this issue.

Mr Azzopardi has a wide array of experience in the food and beverage industry and set up an international business supplying superyachts with fine and rare wine and food on behalf of Salvo Grima & Sons Ltd, named No12 Fine Wines and Provisions. He then founded premium-wine supply company Vintage’82 Ltd in 2022, using his knowledge and experience working with people from the superyacht industry to bring various quality wines to the Maltese Islands.

Social image: Vintage’82 Ltd

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Vintage'82 Ltd Owner and Founder Andrew Azzopardi / LinkedIn

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