In this article of our wine magazine, we talk again about Poland and its relation with Italy. This time, we talk with the great wine critic and Editor-in-Chief of Ferment magazine, Tomasz Prange-Barczyński. Another interesting chat on wine and Poland to discover more about the globe of wine from Italy.
What was your first contact with the world of Italian wine and what do you remember most about the first bottles you tasted? (flavours, scents, vines…)
Honestly speaking – I don’t remember my very first Italian wine, but in 1992 I took opportunity to go to Italy with my future wife and our goal was to drink local wines from the regions we were passing, starting from, probably, Raboso somewhere next to Venice finishing with, maybe, Fiano or Greco next to Naples. What I remember for sure and what made me a faithful Italian Wine Lover and self-named ambassador of your country in Poland was diversity, multiplicity of varieties, regions, styles. In last 30 years I was more than 200 times in Italy and always I have something new to discover.
If I could give some advice to the Italian wine producers who want to expand and, perhaps, get known in Poland, what would it be? Even more than one of course…
Modern Poles started their wine adventure almost from the scratch after 1989. But we love to travel and to discover new things. Disadvantage is relatively low consumption of wine in our country. On the other hand, you must know, that there’s a big difference between bigger cities and the rest of the country. In places like Warsaw, Krakow, Poznań or Gdańsk we have blooming wine culture, many wine bars, young generation of well-educated sommeliers with international background. The most important is that Poles don’t have any prejudices and are open to new experiences. They just need to be guided. Italians, like no other country, did a huge job to promote wine in Poland. I mean on one hand producers themselves, consortiums or associations, and on the other local or government bodies. So, to conclude – Poland it’s a great market but wine will not sell itself. You must be there, support your importers, organize tastings and presentations and for sure you will find your niche even if you produce wine from unknown variety from small unknown region (maybe for some part of the market it would be even better 😎)
The wines of Lazio are also becoming known in Poland. In your opinion, which are the most important features sought by wine lovers in your country?
My very first experience with wines from Lazio 20 years ago was not good. At Vinitaly, we were almost forced by the organizers to taste overoak and overextracted Merlots which were boring and characterless. What is more, during my last trip to the region, couple of year ago, I was surprised how diverse and rich is the region – starting from Frascati and Cori with all the local varieties like cesanese, nero buono and so through Agro Pontino and northern part of Lazio Region, closer to Umbria, where lovely grechetto wines are made. So, there’s not one Lazio wine or style but dozens of it. And that’s great. People will love this diversity, novelty but also a high profile the wines are made. But, again, they need to be guided. I have spoken to one of the very first importers of Lazio wines in Poland and he told me the short story as he sold his first order immediately after the series of tasting done together with producer. Giovanna Trisorio (the export manager of Cincinnato, ed) knows this story very well 😁
Are there any traditional Polish dishes that go well with Lazio wines?
Sure. I would be happy to have a classic Polish “schabowy” which is like costolette milanese but made of pork together with Bellone, Grechetto will be perfect with fried sweet water fish like trout, I’m sure that our classic pierogi, a kind of bigger ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and cabage or meat will go well with Cesanese, and Nero Buono should be a perfect pair to “gulasz” – a beef stew. Last but not least, amabile version of Moscato di Terracina will be perfect with a pound cake.
My warmest regards,
Tomasz Prange-Barczyński (1969): wine critic and Editor-in-Chief of Ferment. Pismo o winie. Contributor of www.winicjatywa.pl.
In the wine circle since 1998 (Magazyn Wino – creator and Editor-in-Chief for 12 years;, Radio PIN, Playboy, Newsweek)
Author of the books World On The Wine Paths (Pascal, 2020), Europe On The Wine Paths (Pascal, 2019; Magellan Prize 2021 for The Best Culinary Guide; Book of The Year Silver Medal by spirits.com.pl), Guide to the Wines of Portugal (2017), Profession: sommelier (2007) and TV documentaries: Wine. The Manual (2009), California in a Bottle (2010). Wine and spirits books translator to Polish (Wines of the World, Le Vin en 80 Questions, La Dégustation, Whisky) .
Judge in several international wine competitions i.a. Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, Mundus Vini, Polish Corks, Best of Riesling, Vinitaly, Pannonhalmi Bormustra and many others.
In April 2019 he was awarded in Bundestag, Berlin by German Wine Institute the title of “Riesling Fellow” in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the German Riesling category. Croatian “Golden Pen Top Journalist Award” winner 2011.
In his parallel life Prange-Barczyński writes about traveling with a special focus on ski and bikes. He published several articles on these topics in Polish traveling magazines i.a. Voyage and opinion magazines like Newsweek, Wprost and Playboy. He published a book Skiing; Sport for Everybody (Wiedza i Życie, 2005).