“Bacchus among the Blackshirts: Wine Making, Consumerism and Identity in Fascist Italy, 1919-1937”

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"Bacchus among the Blackshirts: Wine Making, Consumerism and Identity in Fascist Italy, 1919-1937," Contemporary European History 29:4 (November 2020): 394-415

Article Abstract

This article explores the way in which wine came to be viewed as a quintessentially ‘Italian’ beverage among Italy's middle- and upper-class households during fascism's twenty years in power. Due to significant increases in wine consumption among the labouring classes during the years immediately following the First World War, wine, as a general category of beverage, had become closely associated within the minds of many bourgeois and wealthy consumers with the country's popular taverns and saloons, alcoholism and physical and moral ‘degeneration.’ In response, fascist Italy's typical wine growers, merchants and industrialists worked feverishly to rehabilitate the beverage's downtrodden reputation via a series of wide-ranging public relations and collective marketing campaigns during the 1920s and 1930s. By promoting the beverage's hygienic and alimentary qualities, as well as systematically intertwining the moderate consumption of the peninsula's standardised wines with the dictatorship's nationalisation and popular mobilisation programmes, this article will show, the Industrial Wine Lobby successfully re-established ‘wine's honour’ and, simultaneously, recontextualised the country's typical wines as Italy's wholesome, family-friendly, ‘national beverage’.

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  • November 2020

A study on the way in which wine came to be viewed as a quintessentially ‘Italian’ beverage among Italy’s middle- and upper-class households during fascism’s twenty years in power.

* Winner of the 2021 SIHS Article Prize for Modern Italian History