So, who is this ‘wog’ and what is his grog?
The ‘wog’ is Roberto Dessanti. And his love affair with good grog goes way back.
Roberto (or Robert, or Rob, depending on who is addressing him and on what hemisphere he is on) and his passion for good food and wine emerged from an early age.
Australian born, Roberto is strongly influenced by his Italian born parents and their heritage (from the regions of Piemonte and Friuli), and has now made sharing this passion for fine wine with connoisseurs and novices his life’s work through the wholesale and distribution company he founded six years ago called Euro Concepts.
From this, two years ago he founded the consumer-focused company he named ‘The Wog With The Grog’, coined from friendly jibes from fellow wine buffs who’d remark: “Here comes the wog with the grog!”
As we now know, the word ‘wog’ has evolved into a term of endearment for Australians with an (usually European) overseas heritage. At each show he exhibits, the cheeky moniker has a favourable reaction, with crowds drawn to its humour and obvious element of fun.
Since the age of eighteen, Roberto has travelled regularly to Italy, especially to his parents’ ancestral region of Piemonte in Italy’s north, learning the secrets of what constitutes good food and wine. This region is famous for it, and Roberto now tries to capture that with each product he handpicks to bring back home to Australia for fellow Australians to enjoy. As a young adult, Roberto regularly travelled to the Trieste region each year, as part of ‘Young Giuliani’, where groups of eager young adults travelled to their grandparents’ and parents’ birthplace. It was here they were immersed in culture and history of the region, learning the Italian art of ‘la dolce vita’.
In 2004, Roberto (now 42) took the opportunity to study at the prestigious International School of Management in Trieste, and has since successfully assisted Italian companies to export their product around the world. From this, Roberto founded Euro Concepts Sydney, a premium wine and food importer and distributor, making its mark on the food and beverage scene since 2009.
Roberto’s background has also seen him work across all aspects of hospitality, from five star hotels, to ‘mum and dad’ style operations, getting to know the industry so well he is sought to consult establishments regularly, tapping into his managerial and international experience. Like any bona fide Italophile, Roberto carries with him the knowledge gained as a youngster atop a stool watching nonna and mamma cook, and has married that with formal training acquired in hospitality studies, from being at the ‘frontline’ on a kitchen floor and behind the scenes of a restaurant operation.
Back to the wine! The personality of each wine Roberto chooses is linked to its country of origin, its climate, and to the care taken in harvesting and creating it, and the personality of the wine maker. That quality he seeks out for each product is not an abstract concept for Roberto, but a truly tangible thing, and he displays that by choosing the right wines to pass on to the consumer. Passion, tradition, quality and innovation are the foundation of Roberto’s beliefs, which is demonstrated in all the products he represents.
Each wine chosen by Roberto also demonstrates his understanding of what works in the Australian market, and taps into his accounting background and his early education in hospitality and tourism.
For Roberto, his approach to choosing each wine must meet his criteria in paying homage to the winemaker, and telling the story of their culture and heritage. When it comes to selling these wines to the everyday consumer via The Wog With The Grog, Roberto’s belief is to source superior products and on-sell them to the wine aficionado at a fair price, rather than source inferior product and mark it up unfairly.
Says Roberto: “I see what our competitors do because I am out there buying for them, too. The consumer accessing what we sell at The Wog With The Grog gets the best possible product, with a colourful backstory, at an exceptional price.”
This is why The Wog With The Grog is destined for big things in the Australian alcohol world.
(Photo credit: Esteban La Tessa, La Tessa Photography).