Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Availability of Italian wine in Belgium

Some friends are repeatedly asking me to inform them regarding where to find this brunello or barolo that we taste together or that I suggest on the basis of the tastings to which I participate.

Well, the availability of Italian wine in Belgium is actually a matter of great mystery.

First of all, because it is difficult to find an importer that covers the whole territory of the country (should I stress that this is a rather special country, with a peculiar federal structure, three official languages - Flemish, French and German, plus a very large English-speaking international community in Brussels - and a major ongoing conflict between the two largest communities). Most commonly, importers and distributors are "regionalised", and in fact the area that is paying the consequence of it is the area of Brussels, where the availability of good Italian wine is scarce (to say the least).

I personally import myself all the wine that I need (sometimes with friends), first of all because I can only find 10% (or less) of the wine that I am looking for, second because it would cost me (even after paying transport + Belgian excise duties) at least 30/50% more than what I actually pay by arranging things myself directly with the producers or wine sellers from Italy.

Of course not everybody can arrange for personal delivery and this is certainly not the ideal situation. It is important to stress each time (for example when discussing with wines sellers here) the need to improve this situation, breaking this de facto segmentation into regional markets.

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