Slovak winemakers angered by foreign wines offered in Slovak pavilion at Dubai Expo

They call on the Economy Ministry to show them more respect.

Wine cellar in ŽemberovceWine cellar in Žemberovce (Source: Gabriel Kuchta)

Slovak winemakers are criticising the Economy Ministry, the organiser of the Slovakia’s representation at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, for offering foreign wines at the Slovak pavilion's restaurant. The Association of Wine Growers and Wine Producers (ZVVS) recalls that last year alone, Slovak wines won more than 230 medals at prestigious world exhibitions. In total, more than 5,000 types of wines of domestic origin are available in Slovakia.

“Dubai is a slap in the face of Slovak wine, which, with its unique quality, tested by the most prestigious international competitions, has attracted attention to a small country of great wine,” Vladimír Mrva, president of ZVVS, wrote in the press release. “Not only athletes and the automotive industry, but also winegrowers and winemakers have raised the prestige and self-confidence of Slovakia.”

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ZVVS was triggered by a photo of the menu published on the holiday website Dovolenky bez Cestovky – Letenky. Only French and Italian wines, French cognacs, Italian mineral water and Czech beer were on offer, the Pravda daily reported.

“As a Slovak winemaker, the absence of Slovak wines, beer and water offends me twice,” Karol Šebo, a winegrower and winemaker, wrote on social media. He considers this a manifestation of the deep lack of respect Slovak producers suffer from by a portion of society that is convinced imported goods are better than Slovak ones.

Július Forsthoffer, the secretary of the Association of Alcohol and Spirits Producers, sees what happened in Dubai as a national disgrace.

“None of us were approached; they gave up on it,” he said, as cited by Pravda.

Economy Minister Richard Sulík (SaS) reacted immediately, saying that the exhibition in Dubai is not a food fair.

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“It is an exhibition of Slovak technologies and innovations; the hydrogen car and the bus are just a fraction of the Slovak inventions that will open up to the world market here,” said Sulík, as cited by Pravda, explaining that to have Slovak food products at the pavilion would be too expensive and complicated. In the meantime, the administrator of the restaurant has already had some success in obtaining Slovak food products for the restaurant.

Slovak producers are not satisfied with Sulík’s response.

ZVVS said that Slovak winemakers export their wines to several countries around the world, including China, Japan, Canada, the USA, Shanghai, and Vietnam.

“We cannot understand why the Slovak government cannot ensure the presentation of Slovak wines at the long-prepared Expo 2020 in Dubai,” wrote Mrva.

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