Thursday, September 1, 2011

Good Luck, President Medvedev!

Finally President Medvedev said it. Wait is over. No more 2d term for him. No more questions - skip election press conference, relax, do crazy things, vacation all you want, rename Red Army to White, move permanently to Sochi or Miami. Nothing can hurt you anymore because president of Russia never says something like vodka is evil and wine is as good as water or juice.

There are way too many problems with this.

Firstly, beer is the main fighter of vodka in Russia. Never mind beer became an appetizer to a lot of vodka drinkers: it will be a hard sell for wine to overtake beer.

Secondly, dry wine demands some sophistication from its consumers because wine is a foodie drink. Anywhere you go wine goes side by side with local type of food: Chèvre and Sancerre or Schnitzel with sauerkraut and German Riesling or BBQ and Zinfandel. Pairing typical Russian food is a challenge (if you have a good idea for pelmeni with sour cream please let me know).

Next goes simple price/reward ratio: choosing between wine with 11-14% alcohol level and vodka with 40% alcohol level for half or less the price. It’s no brainer.

But don’t stop there. How about selection: there are literally 100s types of different wines – not even brands – which leaves uneducated consumer daunted and lost. On top of that two decent, affordable and well known sources of wine for Russian consumer are Moldova and Georgia – both are banned for import for pure political reasons.

With all these problems I wish President Medvedev good luck. Because some day wine might turn out to be a cure for vodka-loving Russia. But I don’t see just 2 things today: how Medvedev can be a president after this and how Putin can jump on a wine loving band-wagon when he becomes president again. Because even fantastically overinflated credit Putin has won’t be enough to fight vodka in Russia. But maybe, just maybe, it is the one idea that can turn a lot of things around in this country…