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French love for wine set to become official

Joshua Melvin · 3 Mar 2014, 14:04

Published: 03 Mar 2014 14:04 GMT+01:00

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It may seem obvious that France is synonymous with wine, but recent struggles between the government and wine makers have made the reality much less clear than a Loire valley white.

French senators are propelling a bill forward that carries an article which recognizes that, “wine, fruits of the vine and the wine regions are part of the cultural and gastronomic landscape of France." 

The clause is the work of Senator Roland Courteau, who represents the southern French wine-making area of the Aude. He proposed the language as part of an amendment that a Senate committee approved last month.

“Wine is part of 2,000-year-old cultural and economic French landscape, passed from generation to generation," Courteau told French daily Le Figaro. “Thanks to this amendment, we begin the real process of protecting and rehabilitating wine against the attacks it has suffered from being lumped together with other alcoholic drinks.”   

The full Senate is expected to cast its vote in April. 

In recent months relations between France's wine industry and the government has been fraught to say the least.

In the autumn Paris announced plans to strengthen warnings on wine bottle labels. The proposal calls for changing the warning from "Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health" to "Alcohol is dangerous for your health".

That provoked an angry reaction from wine growers' representatives.

“These measures are bad for the industry and bad for our image. French wine is a very good product. Wine makers in Italy are not up against the same problems we are in France,” Bernard Farges, chair of Bordeaux wine industry group "Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux", told The Local last year.

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He added: “We are being treated like drug dealers. We cannot accept that."

In recent years the French government has moved the crack down on the changing ways alcohol is consumed and viewed in French society. Though long-known for moderation, the French are behind only the United Kingdom and Russia for the title of the world’s biggest drinkers.

However, officials have become concerned about the enthusiastic uptake of Anglo-style binge drinking among the country’s youth. Those concerns even prompted new, higher age limits to buy alcohol. But a study by a government-funded health group found the new restrictions had done little to curb drinking and smoking among teens.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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