I love the occasional glass of wine. I say occasional, but that amounts to a glass of red wine a day at dinner. I always have my wine when I eat, only rarely do I drink without it being part of my meal. That’s basically the Italian way. A glass of wine is part of the dish that you’re serving.
When I look at alcohol consumption in Italy it’s very different from the alcohol consumption in, e.g. Germany, the Netherlands, England etc. Wine is the preferred drink and it’s often being consumed at a meal and in moderation. From time to time you can have an aperitivo before dinner or a liquor after dinner to help digestion. Going for drinks after dinner is uncommon. You’d rather go for a walk.
Perhaps Veneto is not the region that is the best example of the Italian drinking culture, because it is probably one of the few, I think even the only one, that has an occasional display of drunk people. And this is really not as common in Italy as in the countries I mentioned before. In most of Italy the relationship with alcohol is pretty healthy. When you go out in the evening, especially in summer, you see a lot of people (also the young ones) walking through the streets without a drink in their hands and just chatting and moving around. Some people may sit down, but mostly for just a drink or two, nothing outrageous.
There is no taboo when it comes to alcohol consumption. Children get their first sip of wine at home and they learn what a normal amount of drinking means, when to drink and what to drink. Besides, most people can afford wine, but they can’t afford a numerous amount of drinks. So some beverages are just too expensive for the masses. Of course that also has an influence on the amount that you consume. However, what I find really striking, is that they enjoy their wine, but they don’t need it to relax or to get their mind off things or to escape the stress of their daily lives. They have plenty of other mechanisms to deal with this. It could actually be a very important factor for their moderate consumption.
Now, Davide and I are particularly lucky. We mostly drink the red wine that is produced by Davide and his family. Very natural wine that makes you feel like you’re not drinking wine at all (can also be a little bit dangerous of course). We rarely spend money on wine and qualitatively we have one of the best ones in our house. There’s really no need to go out for a drink.
From Italy with love,
p.s. Sometimes I have the feeling that even the weather plays a significant role in the amount of alcohol that is being consumed in Italy. It’s often so sunny, that you rarely feel gloomy and I have the feeling (I don’t know for a fact of course) that when you’re brightened by the sun you’re less likely to please yourself with a glass of whatever it is you fancy to make you feel better. You simply already feel good.