The cliché of the Russian clinging to his bottle of vodka fizzled. First, Russians drink less. Consumption fell by 43% between 2003 and 2016, reaching an average of 11.1 liters of pure alcohol per year per person. This is even less than the French (11.7 liters). Then they drink differently. While 45% of them say they like strong alcohol, 40% prefer beer and 13.5% prefer wine. And not only in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
In more modest towns, the world of wine is also gaining followers. Like Irina, 51, who lives in Petrozavodsk, in the Saratov region, and regularly takes part in tastings. Every fortnight or so, she receives a text or WhatsApp message from a sommelier who offers evenings around beautiful bottles in a restaurant privatized for the occasion. “Wine is served at the table, it gives a taste to dishes, which is more fun than other alcohols”, notes Irina, who says she never drank vodka. In his eyes, the national spirits has no interest. “Wine is joy without madness”, she believes.
The one who calls herself “Ira” by her relatives particularly likes French, Italian and Spanish wines, even if there are also wines from South Africa, Portugal and Germany on the shelves of her hypermarket. She appreciates reds and sparkling wines, which in Russian are called “playful wines”. On the wallet side, she puts between €10 and €15 in a bottle, and is wary of wines “low-end, because, frankly, we don’t know what’s in it”. Some are indeed cut with water and alcohol. Since the start of the offensive in Ukraine, his favorite Chianti has increased by 30%.
“In Russia, interest in wine is growing, but not as fast as we would like”, Natasha Sumkina, translator in retraining
“In Russia, interest in wine is growing, but not as fast as we would like”, notes, with a hint of regret, Natasha Sumkina, a 27-year-old translator who has been in wine since 2019. Holder of the first three levels of the international Wine & Spirit Education Trust training, passed in Rome and Dijon, she is now working on the diploma final in London. “It’s difficult to learn about wine in Russia because, between logistics and import taxes, they are expensive. Only those who have the means can drink quality. »
In Saint Petersburg, Natacha Sumkina created a wine club, MonaVina. “Russians buy a wine because they find the label attractive. But they have no idea what they are going to find in the bottle. I would like to help them. » For the young enthusiast, more than the offer, it is the pedagogy that must be developed.