Water Into Vino Controversy: German Red Wine Powder Angers Chianti Growers

Furious Italian winemakers claim that a German manufacturer of powdered red wine is copying their hallowed Chianti -- a charge the company vehemently denies. The product, intended for thirsty hikers rather than connoisseurs, is selling so well that the firm plans to introduce powdered beer.

A German company has dismissed complaints from Italian winemakers that it has copied Chianti wine to manufacture a powder that turns into wine when water is added.

Is it Chianti Classico or "Trek n' Eat Drinks Powder Type Red Wine?"
DPA

Is it Chianti Classico or "Trek n' Eat Drinks Powder Type Red Wine?"

A Tuscan farmers association said the product was a "terrible copy," Italian news agency Ansa reported.

"Wine is made from grapes and not packets of powder from which hotchpotches are made," said the Tuscan branch of farmers' association Coldiretti, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. "This is just the latest trick at the expense of one of Italy's most prestigious products."

On its Web site, Katadyn, the Swiss-owned company that produces a range of ready-made packet foods for hikers, makes no mention of Chianti and says its red wine-flavored beverage powder ensures that "mountaineering gourmands no longer have to forego a glass of red wine after conquering a peak."

The company denied that the powder was a copy of Chianti or any other type of red wine. "We are well aware that we're not even permitted to call the product wine. No grapes were used in its production, it's simply a product that is flavored to taste like wine," Stefanie Dietrich, Katadyn's general management for Germany, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

The drink has an alcohol content of around eight percent, a little weaker than normal wine, and is a little sweeter than most wines, Dietrich said.

The Italian association says wine-from-powder kits "risk fooling less expert consumers on the real contents of the product on sale and damages the image of Italian and European production."

It seems hard to believe that even inexpert wine drinkers will fail to taste the difference between a glass of Chianti Classico and Katadyn's German-made "Trek n' Eat Drinks Powder Type Red Wine."

"Basically, it's a drinks powder with alcohol and red coloring," said Dietrich. "It's been on the market for the last eight years and it's been selling really well." She said the company will take its wine powder off the market next year, however, when it will introduce what could prove an even bigger seller -- beer powder.

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