Rio beach night - Hosting Brazil style

Will the global focus on Brazil profit the wine sector?

The last two months have offered Brazil watchers an opportunity to see how the country may fare in its hosting of next year’s World Cup and the Rio Olympics in 2016. The staging of the Confederations Cup in June and Rio’s hosting of World Youth Day in July, provided an indication of how the country is placed to handle such large scale events and the impact it may have on the hospitality market. Having worked in one of Rio’s most internationally focused restaurants throughout the period, my assessment of these test runs would be decidedly mixed.

The Confederations Cup coincided with some of the largest public demonstrations seen in the country in decades, with protests often planned for game days to draw international attention. The impact of the protests was widely felt in host cities, hampering transportation, and encouraging many possible international visitors to steer clear. While the protests may have subsided for now, they showed there is much ill-feeling within the country about the way these events have been planned and resourced and there is every chance they may flare up again.
World Youth Day and the visit of Pope Francis generated an influx of more than two million youngsters from around the world. Rio’s Mayor declared two full days of municipal holiday, showing the only way the city can currently cope with such an influx is to curtail normal business. The Pope’s movements across the city caused wide-scale disruption, making large parts of the city inaccessible. Once again, restaurant takings were down, as locals stayed at home or got out of town. Given the young demographic, the only restaurants which benefited from the event were fast food and buffet joints.

Rio beach night 300x199 - Hosting Brazil style

These two events suggest that potential boosts to trade may be greatly overestimated. The expected boon to London’s on-trade during last year’s Olympics failed to materialise, and Brazil’s cities may suffer a similar fate unless organising committees and local governments can be better prepared.

Beyond the rehearsals, the official wines of the World Cup have been selected, causing some surprise. The contract to supply still wines for the event was awarded to self-styled “boutique” producer Lidio Carraro, while Taittinger has been selected as the official Champagne.

Lidio Carraro is small player compared to Brazilian giants like Miolo, Salton or Aurora, and is doubling its production to meet demand requirements. Samples of the white and red wines in the FIFA endorsed FACES series have been released, and follow the company’s philosophy of prioritising primary fruit over oak. Both wines have been created using a blend grape varieties (11 for the red), giving the company more flexibility to produce fruity, easy drinking wines likely to appeal to a wide audience.

In the same way that the choice of Lidio Carraro may push them into the domestic big league, Taittinger will be hoping that the FIFA deal gives the brand a boost in Brazil. The local Champagne market is dominated by LVMH brands Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, and it may be good not only for Taittinger, but also for the Champagne region, to see another brand gain greater