Mr. Sandeman says people should enjoy wine and drink it with food
The WiM Association has become the international social responsibility movement of the wine sector. George Sandeman is a board member of the Sogrape Vinhos SA and the president of the WiM Association. He has been the president from the beginning, one of the fathers of Wine in Moderation program.
How did you inspire for the idea of Wine in Moderation?
The basic of the project wasn’t very romantic, we were pressed to do something on the wine industry to show that we have social responsibility. At the beginning we had a meeting at the European Commission. We wanted to do a program that highlights the „Art de Vivre” program. We put the basic of the program in a few months. Than the small concept has grown with enthusiastic people. Now we try to tell it to wine producers. Many of them are nervous because they are used to sell big quantities. But culture is in the wine’s good quality, responsible and moderate drinking in good company with good food but not in big quantity.
As it takes a long time to convert a consumer so we want to keep them for long term. We don’t want them drinking all the wine in one time and then having problems.
What is the main message of the program?
The main message of Wine in Moderation is „ Enjoy wine, drink it with food”. Of course young people, pregnant women and people who drive shouldn’t drink. The program’s basis to be responsible and sustainable. That’s why the concept of social sustainability comes along.
Do you agree with the idea, that three principles (social responsibility, environmental responsibility, economic responsibility) in the sustainability model has to be completed with culture?
Yes, I would agree with it. The culture is different in every region and in every country. If you do something in a way in your country you can’t just say one should do it in the same way in his country. We try to spread the culture to enjoy the wine. This is a Mediterranean culture from a point of view. It is a very good illusion. It is to do with socialising, with gastronomy with the moments of interaction, and not with moments of excess. The culture is that we have partly lost. The hard cultures say: „If we have a problem we can resolve it in one way and you have to resolve it in the same way.” It is interesting to see, that even organisations identifies problems in terms of drinking. Those who are most controlled and most prohibited are the ones with the worst habits. Even if one drinks less alcohol he does in a much more harmful way. In a wine producing country one drinks wine every day. I seldom have a meal without a glass of wine. But I was very surprised in England because many people have stopped drinking wine at lunchtime. In the city of London there are companies that have prohibited people drinking alcohol during worktime. I think it is a lack of trust between the employer and the employee.
How does it work in Sopragpe Vinhos?
In my company there is a wine cellar. Everybody can drink at lunchtime, they cannot bring the bottle to the table but they can fill their glass for a second time. But lot of people drink water or only a small glass of wine.
What Sogrape does as the member of WiM organisation?
The main thing we are involved in is that we have self – regulations in advertising and communication. We have wine communication standards and also follow the Portuguise regulation. We have available and displayed information of Wine in Moderation. The message of our advertisements is: „Be responsible, drink with moderation”
Once a year we have WiM week, that is a question of lifestyle. We do three things: WiM, diet and exercises. People set up from lunch and they walk around for 1,5 km. We do it for a week but people like it and usually keep on doing it for the whole summer. Than we have papers in the cellar, where there is several information about Wine in Moderation, for example what should one eat. There are posters talking about how much you should drink. We have a competition where people fill the questions about Wine in Moderation and at the end of a week they win a bottle of wine that they can drink in moderation.
Outside at the end of our wine fairs in the exit there are medical students who probe one’s alcohol level. Than we give information about the public transport and taxis.
What is your opinion what should do in the name of Wine in Moderation a Central European country like Hungary?
I think every country has its own different way. The whole concept started with our idea and with some guidelines. And then everybody has to adjust them to his country. But it is important for all the wineries who are exporting their wines into different countries that they have to put into their message: „Enjoy it with foods with friends, taste it, understand it, but don’t abuse it.” That’s our message.
Important that one shouldn’t drink when she is pregnant. Young people shouldn’t drink. Of course sometimes we drink wine at home with my daughters, who are 18 and 19 but just small glasses.
In Portugal the alcohol level is 0,5 and 0,2 for the young people who just started to drive. Our message is don’t drink at all if you drive. There is no reason to drive when people have drunk. We don’t want to make a product that harms people, they have to enjoy wine.
We do some training with restaurants. We suggest them to offer free non-alcoholic drink in the menu for the drivers. Some restaurants agree with this some doesn’t. Beside social responsibility there is also civil responsibility.