Slow Food and wine: a love story 40 years long.

28 November 2021

From 1982 to 2022: Slow Food and wine, a love story 40 years long.

From books, events, founding documents and work in close contact with producers to the consolidation of a living and proactive network: a short history of Slow Food and wine.

The history of Slow Wine: the 80s and 90s

1982: Carlo Petrini and a group of friends found the Friends of Barolo Association. Before Arcigola and long before Slow Food, our roots were planted among the vines. The association produces a catalogue of wines, combining data sheets with a narration of each label, a small preview of what would one day become the Vini d’Italia guide.

March 17, 1986: revelation of the methanol scandal, the lowest point for the wine industry in Italy. Twenty-three people died in a blow for the credibility of Italian wine that seemed fatal. At the same time, this moment represents the beginning of a reawakening across the sector. Speaking about it positively is impossible, given the respect we owe to the victims of this awful tragedy, but there can be no doubt that it came as a shock for everyone.

1988: Arcigola Slow Food and Gambero Rosso publish the first edition of the Vini d’Italia guide.

1992: the first edition of Guida al vino quotidiano (Guide to Daily Wine) is published, which reviews the best Italian wines in terms of their value for money, guiding readers in the choice of wines day by day.

The beginning of the new millennium

2004: the Wine Bank is founded. Part of the Pollenzo complex which hosts the University of Gastronomic Sciences, the Wine Bank is a structure that aims to promote Italian wine heritage through training courses and the protection of wines destined for aging. Over 18 years the Wine Bank has organized hundreds of tastings both at its base and around the country.

2007: Vignerons d’Europe, in Montpellier. At Salon du Goût et des Saveurs d’Origine, to celebrate a hundred years since the revolt of the Languedoc winegrowers, the first edition of Vignerons d’Europe unites hundreds of European winemakers in a debate over the challenges created by an ever more globalized world, confronting the wine-growing crisis not only in terms of its economic impact, but also its impact on the identity of those affected.

2009: the second edition of Vignerons d’Europe, held in Montecatini and Florence, delivers the Manifesto di Vignerons d’Europe, which describes the role of the winemakers as protectors of the environment, the health of consumers, the fates of their communities, their lands, and wine as an authentic expression of culture.

From 2011 to today: a guide is born

2011: the Slow Wine guide is published, aiming to shift the focus from the wines to a wider panorama that encompasses the wineries, the producers and the areas of production, with a wealth of details. A revolutionary idea, because Slow Wine isn’t simply a list of the big names, but a guide that shifts the reader’s attention away from point scores – which are not used – to the description of the winemaking style and the agronomic techniques employed. Slow Wine 2011 is a guide born in the vineyards to inform readers about the wineries themselves and the lands that host them. The objective is to describe the hundred aromas potentially expressed in a wine and provide a clear and precise interpretation of them, highlighting those labels that fully express their terroir and the grape varieties grown. Check out the latest edition, Slow Wine 2022 (in Italian).

2012: the first Slow Wine Tour. With the publication of the first English edition of the Slow Wine guide, the Slow Wine Tour of 2012 visits New York, Chicago and San Francisco. In subsequent editions of the tour more dates are added in Germany, Denmark, Japan and Canada…

2017: Slow Wine Slovenia is published. The guide expands to another country for the first time, Italy’s north-eastern neighbor Slovenia, beginning with a review of 30 winemakers in the regions of Brda and Kras, denominations that border the Collio and Carso denominations in Italy. Though they are divided by a political barrier, the grape varieties, wine styles and characteristics of the land we find in these two areas are very similar to their neighbors on the Italian side.

2018: Slow Wine USA. After the experience in Slovenia, the Slow Wine team decides to begin work in California, reviewing 50 wineries across the state. In following years the guide expands, including Oregon in 2019 then both Washington State and New York in 2020, reaching a total of 300 wineries reviewed.

2020: presentation of the Slow Food Manifesto for good, clean and fair wine, a document that is in some sense a child of the reflections contained in the Manifesto of Vignerons d’Europe of 2009, revisited through internal discussion and dialog with producers and enologists. It is the position of Slow Food on wine: ten points to discuss and develop through further debate.

2021: the Slow Wine Coalition is founded, an international network that unites all the protagonists in the wine industry to start a revolution in wine based on environmental sustainability, defense of the landscape and the socio-cultural growth of the countryside. The foundations for the birth of this community were planted with the presentation of the Manifesto for good, clean and fair wine, a starting point for discussion and debate.

March 27-29, 2022: the first edition of the Slow Wine Fair in Bologna. A story yet to be written!