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“Non me la bevo” (I am not buying it), the new book by Michele Antonio Fino.

Lorenzo Biscontin

Michele Antonio Fino is many things in the world of wine. First of all he is an enthusiast, then he is also a winemaker and finally he is Associate Professor of Fundamentals of European Law at the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo.

These three souls can all be found in his book published in Italy by Mondadori few weeks ago “I am not buying it – Enjoying wine consciously without marketing or fads”.

Of the enthusiast there is the clear and direct style in which it was written, which makes reading pleasant and understandable for everyone.

The winemaker has practical knowledge of the topics he talks about, which gives concreteness to the topics covered in the 10 chapters into which the book is divided.

In the research scientist there is the curiosity to get to the bottom of things, beyond clichés, the rational approach to issues that are addressed without prejudice and the formal rigor in defining and reporting the facts.

“Non me la bevo” is in fact a book in which Michele Antonio Fino addresses beliefs and convictions that form the current perception of wine by a large majority of consumers and analyzes them on their merits, often denying them. Definitely dismantling them in their current structure.

He carries out what today would be called debunking of the storytelling of wine, that is, he applies the “try and try again” on which the scientific method has been based since the time of Galileo Galilei.

We interviewed Michele Antonio Fino to talk about his book and wine in general.

Why this book and for whom?

This book is the distillation of 25 years of interest in the world of wine which began with the knowledge of the vines and producers, and continued with the study of wine legislation which I taught for the University of Turin for a few years in Alba and finally it merged with the research on origin and quality schemes that I have been conducting since I was at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo.

The need I felt was to create a volume that could offer information that is rarely available to those who have an interest in wine but objectively feel a little manipulated by a sweetened narration, often condescending if not even filled with news with little or no basis.

It is not a book for those looking for purchasing advice but rather a book for navigating purchasing advice!

“The truth will set you free.” Can debunking improve the credibility of the wine industry?

It would be extremely arrogant to answer that debunking will improve the credibility of the wine sector but in my opinion, debunking will at least allow those producers who are less inclined to take shortcuts to develop medium-long term strategies which, in my humble opinion, are equipped of the best prospects.

This is because it is the relationship that is established between a producer who renounces certain means and a consumer who is finally truly free to choose, it is a more stable relationship and protected from trends.

What are the 3 false myths about wine you need to know to enjoy it with awareness?

First myth: no wine today is made like 200 years ago simply because Pasteur was involved and even the producer who renounces oenological tools cannot ignore and in fact does not ignore the knowledge that has accumulated since 1860. There is no need to bother Jean Paul Sartre to observe that even the refusal of an option, be it a filtration, a refrigeration unit or a clarifying agent, cannot ignore the option that is precisely rejected and therefore to be this is influenced if not actually determined.

Second myth: it is not possible to credibly argue in any way that wine is good for you tout court, because it is an alcoholic beverage and because if you do not specify the concept of health to which you are referring you are objectively undermining the credibility of the sector and consumer freedom of choice.

Third myth: the great Italian wine productions are not at all centuries old even when they recall dukes, emperors or even Pliny the Elder. The first, very concise, production specification for a wine with an Italian denomination was that of Marsala in 1950. As is known, the first organic Appellation of Origin law dates back to 1963 and the first DOCG (Editor’s note: the highest Appellation standard by Italian law) in the country dates back to 1980. Before then we never had had a tradition of comprehensive and binding production regulation. Of course, there are many documents regarding individual areas or individual aspects of production over the centuries but they cannot be considered in any way as precursors or steps on the path we undertook only 60 years ago.

What is the main threat to wine today?

I see two big threats, one of a strategic nature and one, if we want, more tactful approx.

The strategic threat is one that continues to insist on inaccurate news, simplistic narratives or even complete inventions. Promoting wine in this way exposes you to the risk of being discovered and consequently suddenly losing all your credibility. If the discussion done in this way turns out to be too theoretical and not very intuitive, two words are enough to give the idea: pandoro and Ferragni (Editor’s note: it refers to a recent scandal on the Italian market involving the famous influencer Chiara Ferragni and a well-known brand of pandoro, traditional Italian Christmas cake).

The tactical threat, identified in the book, is that of not having designed the Italian production system according to an honest and reasonable division between productions intended for daily consumption and designations of origin, to be reserved for those territories and production traditions that are objectively capable to express a diversity worthy of specific protection.

This tactical flaw translates today into over 500 appellations of origin present in the country, which become thousands of types of wines, since in Italy it is very rare for a designation to concern a single wine produced from a single grape variety, and it is impossible for producers of everyday wine, intended to be simply white red or rosé specifying the grape variety they use for their production. It is enough to observe what has been done in France to realize how, on the other hand, a very radical choice has been made beyond the Alps but at the same time capable of offering new and very effective marketing opportunities on less mature markets by working on Vins de France with the name of the grape variety clearly on the label.

And the main opportunity?

The most significant opportunity for wine today continues to be its intrinsic specificity, being the only alcohol for mass consumption that does not derive from a construction through mixed and varied ingredients to simply meet the taste of consumers, but from transformation of a single ingredient into a product which, through natural fermentation, acquires peculiar and very diversified characteristics between the different types.

In this two-way link, between a single ingredient and a single product resulting from it, lies the very special relationship that wine has with the origin of the grapes when it comes to an appellation but also the organoleptic quality that derives from a common wine from the fact to be produced using merlot or marzemino or refosco.

Wine is a possible kaleidoscope of tastes and aromas, which favors the development of a culture linked to tasting, which can count on an almost infinite variety, and also has an alcohol content compatible with moderate consumption.

The latter is the essential condition for exercising the freedom of choice whether or not to consume what Veronelli called the odorous liquid.

You can find “Non me la bevo” paper version in Italian in physical and digital bookstores and, in the latter, also in e-book version.

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