Turkey is a nation that drifts between two worlds. It is like a double hinged door between Europe, the Mediterranean and the Muslim world. The country is one of the major producers of grape, yet its domestic market barely consumes wine. During the lecture that will take place at FENAVIN 2017, Tuğba Altınöz, Wine Consultant and Educator, will be analyzing the peculiarities and possibilities that arise from the Turkish paradox.
Question-. The wine market in Turkey is peculiar in relationship with other European countries. It is one of the major producers of grapes in the world, and yet the wine market is highly limited. How is the market currently evolving?
Answer-. Turkey is a wine producing country, yet habitual consumers are very few. In Turkey we usually drink Raki (a traditional distillate made with grape and anise-flavored) with our meals and the younger lot tend to choose beer. In general wine is consumed by tourists, although due to the terrorist attacks tourism has dropped enormously in the last two years. There is also a law dating from 2013 that forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverages, therefore, the market is evolving far more slowly than it could. Even so, Turkish consumers are increasingly more interested in wine and they want to learn and discover wines from different regions. Italian wines are very popular among high level consumers, followed by French wines, which are perceived to be of greater quality. In the medium quality market we are now finding Chilean and Argentinean wines. And also, when the temperatures go up consumers tend to prefer white wines, rosé wines and sparkling wine, such as Prosecco.
Q-. Then, what is the situation of Spanish wine in Turkey in this context?
A-. Spanish wine is still the great unknown for the general Turkish public; specialists are aware of regions such as La Rioja or Ribera del Duero, however, there is a lack of general knowledge about the Spanish varieties and regions.
Q-. What are the strengths of Spanish wine in this market that is still to be explored?
A-. The Turkish public prefers red wines with strong tannins. Tempranillo offers this and it is easy to enjoy. The more mature population enjoys wines that have been aged in casks, hence this represents an opportunity for Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva wines. In the case of non-initiated consumers, Spain offers wines that are good value for money. Garnacha may also be a good alternative to the Argentinean Malbec. There is also a seasonal demand for white aromatic and fruity wines, which represents and opportunity for Albariño, Rueda and Rías Baixas. Then, regions such as El Bierzo and varieties such as Mencía and Godello have the potential to attract sommeliers. The most important part is that Spain can offer wines with a good value for money and that is a value that is appreciated in times of crisis.
Q-. What aspects should Spanish wines improve in order to really penetrate the Turkish market?
A-. Patience. The 2013 Law hinders the organization of tasting events with public. Opening Tapas bars or Spanish restaurants in Istanbul is a great opportunity, although between the crisis, the drop in tourism and the devaluation of the Turkish lira –which automatically causes an increase in the price of wine- there are many inconveniences. In view of these circumstances, importers may not be willing to add wines that are not very well known to their offer.
Q-. This is your first visit to FENAVIN. What do you hope to obtain from your visit?
A-. Well this visit represents a great opportunity to extend my knowledge of the Spanish wine market. I would love to try and taste and explore wine from regions that are less known and also increase my commercial contacts. I also hope to help in the promotion of Spanish wine in Turkey by way of my experience at FENAVIN, both consumers, as well as the students in my Master of wine study program.