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Wine drinking tradition lost on young Italians

A country steeped in wine-making traditions is seeing flagging interest among their younger generation with Italians under the age of 35 drinking less wine than ever before, reports a market research study.

While 69 percent of Italians over the age of 65 say they drink wine every day, that statistic drops to 13 percent among Italians between the ages of 16 and 35.

The findings were revealed at Vinitaly, a wine trade show in Verona, Italy earlier this month and reported by international magazine Decanter .

The drop was attributed to a number of factors including the fragmentation of Italian traditions, the cost of wine, and health reasons.

"Italian families have become more and more fragmented in the last 10 years. They're not eating meals together and so wine is no longer a form of food. Wine no longer has a nutritional function," Giovanni Brunetti, a spokesman for market research firm Unicab, told the magazine.

The study also found that 30 percent of Italians no longer consider wine to be a symbol of national gastronomy.

Nearly 35 percent of wine in Italy is purchased in supermarkets, and half of Italian consumers spend less than €3 on a bottle for everyday drinking.

And nearly half of the 22 percent of consumers who reduced their wine consumption said they did so for health reasons.

Winning back Italian wine customers was one of the main themes of the trade show, where the industry focused on strategies for building a strong domestic market especially among women and young people.

The study also found that Italians admit they know little about wine - half of drinkers admitting "total incompetence."

Meanwhile, according to the London-based International Wine & Spirit Research, despite waning interest among young people, Italy is forecast to rival France as the country with the highest consumption per capita of wine this year, at 56.2 liters per person, compared to France's 56.6 liters.