The war of vodka and wine

Noble drink manufacturers claim that they are being squeezed out of the market by vodka magnates

In mid-September the Czech Republic was shook up by mass poisoning with fake vodka. 25 people died of counterfeit product. The government has even introduced a complete ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages of more than 20% strength. Meanwhile, an emergency situation for the Czechs is, unfortunately, an ordinary one for Ukraine. In 2011, in our country about 5000 people died poisoned by ethanol, that is normal and not gall vodka.

This tragic statistics makes one wonder which alcohol is then better to use. It would be logical to assume that the more natural product, such as wine, is better. However, there is another problem: in Ukraine vodka magnates occupy too strong position, and they have no desire to let other alcoholic drinks in the market.  


Grapes is doing well


"During six months in 2012 the decline in production of wine products, compared with the same period in 2011 amounted to 25%," – Serhiy Mykhaylechko, director of the association "Grapes growers and winemakers of Ukraine" writes in his author’s column in the "Economic truth"


According to him, in the country there is an information war against wine, initiated by vodka producers who fear the growth of sun beverage consumption in the country. Because of this, they recently released information about the death of Ukrainian grape harvest by 70% and again reminded of the nonsensical term "powdered wine." Meanwhile, Serhiy Mykhaylechko denies, statistics show a much more optimistic picture. The worst performance, compared with 2011, is in the Crimea and Kherson. Here the harvest decreased by 30% (but still not 70%). In Mykolayiv and Odesa – by 10%, and Transcarpathia remained at last year’s level. However, the author does not mention the fact that there just very small amount of Ukrainian vineyards to provide raw materials for wineries, that is why they can not do without imported raw materials.

Renowned Transcarpathian winemaker Oleksandr Kovacs confirms: this year’s harvest in Transcarpathia is good. "Catastrophic predictions about freezing of vineyards and crop destruction are completely unfounded. In this regard, fortunately, everything is fine. Moreover, the grapes ripen faster. Already on August 31 I bought a merlot variety. And, like the last year, the grapes are of a very good quality – praises Mr. Oleksandr. – Overall in the last two years we were very lucky with the weather conditions.No rains, sunny. Previously autumns were rainy and cold. We could not collect vintage, and it rotted on the vine. I buy grapes abroad, but only if we do not grow a particular variety. And the last time I had to buy because of a poor harvest was 4 years ago. Now there is no such necessity."

Kovacs has no doubt that opposition from vodka producers really exists and significantly complicates life of wine producers. "Unfortunately, our people have long been hooked on strong alcoholic beverages, namely white vodka. And people a little over 30 now die from alcoholism. When a few years ago the wine slowly started to win market share, producers of vodka were alarmed, they feared the loss of millions of dollars in profits that they get at the expense of the health of the nation, and attacked the wine and wine-making," – said Mr. Kovacs. – It was the first time when they started talking about "powder wine." The assumption that the wine is made from some powder or concentrate is absurd for anyone even marginally familiar with the technology of production. Wine can be low quality, of the third extraction, with the addition of sugar. But you can not make it just dissolving a powder in the water." The head of "Cotnar" agrees with this: "Let someone at least show us that it is possible to make a wine from powder. Such technology is not known to winemakers. And I can safely say that powder wine is a fiction."

However, continued Oleksandr Kovacs, these rumours fell on good soil.

The fact is that Ukraine really produces a huge amount of low-quality wines and there are not enough vineyards to support all the amount of products that we produce. People, realizing this, start to believe in "powder". In fact, cheap wine is produced from low quality raw materials, which are imported from European countries – Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia and others. There are grapes in excess there, so they are happy to sell it to Ukraine for pennies. The companies are not required to indicate on the label the origin of raw materials, and therefore pass their products off as Transcarpathian or Odessa wines, although in reality they have nothing to do with these regions.

The situation with vodka in Ukraine is paradoxical – says our interlocutor. This drink is characteristic primarily for the Nordic countries. In the countries, where a wide variety of fruits grows, people consume drinks made as a result of fruit distillation. Actually, this is known in every Transcarpathian village where "hooch" made of plums, pears or peaches is still far more popular than vodka from the store.

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