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07.31.2008

Just When You Thought France Was Making Progress

No matter how bad you think you have it, there are other folks who have it worse than you. We American wine lovers like to bitch about what a royal pain it is to buy wine from out of state wineries and from internet merchants. In truth, it is a broken and corrupt system -- a perversion of the free market that enriches protectionist state governments and their wholesale lobbyists.

But it's not as broken as France.

Yes, this is another rant against the idiocy of the French government and their utterly astonishing tendency to ruin their own wine industry, one of the great contributions their culture has made to the world.

The French really seemed to be making progress for a while there. The overhaul of the AOC system that they passed earlier in the year was most definitely a step in the right direction.

But last week, a piece of legislation leaked to the press that proves that either:

1. The passing of the AOC reforms was just a brief bout of sanity from an otherwise completely out-of-touch parliament
2. The legislative branch of the French Government is in the pocket of anti-alcohol lobbyists
3. When it comes to understanding the Internet, Parliament is dumber than a bag of hammers
4. All of the above

The proposed legislation places alcohol in the same category as pornography when it comes to regulation on the Internet. This means that wine cannot be sold on the Internet (which is currently the case), and sites dealing with the promotion or marketing of wine for sale by anyone other than wineries themselves must be approved by the government, and can only be accessible during certain hours of the day.

I hardly know what to say in response to this.

I'm not sure if this is dumber than their last demonstration of their legislative incompetence when they passed a law requiring all articles about wine to carry the same health warnings as the bottles themselves. Regardless it is certainly more dangerous -- dangerous to the health of an industry that is struggling in the face of too many challenges to have its own parliament hamstring the ability for the wine industry to promote itself to the French people.

France needs another revolution. First thing we do, let's kill all the lobbyists.

Comments (9)

IrisIris wrote:
08.01.08 at 4:04 AM


My vote on your list definitively:

4. All of the above!!!

I wrote about it on my German Blog, which lead to some reactions, showing also, that in Germany too, the government has papers in their drawers, which are not much better or wiser - at least there was some reaction from bloggers and wine-lovers on discussion boards.

But in France: except findawine, who reacted on the first judgments in January/February by a petition, nobody seems to be at his desk to react: they are all on summer holiday and don't seem to care or take all that seriously...

It seems easier, to gain election points by following the fanatic anti-alcoholic-lobby than by trying to keep the repeated radioactive leaks of French atomic centrals under control...

So thanks for your outcry, Alder, we need solidarity!

Ex-Restaurant Lifer wrote:
08.01.08 at 8:24 AM

Kill is such a stong word...lets just make them drink unusually large amounts of 5 year old Fetzer Cabernet, that should make them come to their senses!

Kirstin wrote:
08.01.08 at 12:22 PM

I can only make sense out of the no internet sales as being an extension of French wine regionalism- buy it local mindset. But the hours and all else? Seems over the top.

Morton Leslie wrote:
08.01.08 at 3:00 PM

I think we should encourage Europe to create as many restrictions as possible for EU wine sales and at the same time make it as easy as possible to export to and sell them in the U.S. They are never going to drink our wines and I would love it if we could have some of the choice and value that the French citizens currently enjoy except in a buyer's market here. Is there a French neo-prohibitionist group I can donate to?

08.01.08 at 7:46 PM

I can't agree more that this is a froggy fiasco. I don't know if I'd want to go so far as killing anyone, but... I do think that this is potentially detrimental to the industry, and not just in France either. At a time when the youth of France is becoming increasingly less interested in drinking wine, nothing could be worse for the industry on it's homefront than to take away the younger generation's most watched advertising vehicle - the web. If this doesn't become creatively rectified, a slump in the industry at home might turn small and interesting producers away from what they do best, especially at a time when the dollar is so weak - it's not like the American consumer acn pick up the slack for any lack of wine being consumed in France.

Alder wrote:
08.01.08 at 10:57 PM

Kirstin,

Unfortunately these proposed laws have nothing to do with "buy it local" initiatives. You can buy everything else online in France. Just not wine. This is all driven from the same anti-alcohol lobby that convinced the government that newspaper articles about wine had to carry health warnings, and that they needed stringent censorship rules in place so that the very tiny bit of wine advertising that is allowed has to be approved by the government, lest it incite people to actually drink the stuff.

HamishWM wrote:
08.07.08 at 12:26 AM

These Frenchies are a weird lot. They does seem to be anti alcohol. They have had to sort some major issues of alcoholism and drink driving. However they have now taken this too far. They should be proud of their wine and get behind their wine business. They have such a wide variety/selection within one country. They are always the 'yard stick' to compare the best of any other country. Shame they seem to want to implode.

duanep wrote:
08.09.08 at 3:36 PM

Yet another reason why the French Government is so jacked up - who was the "genious" over there who thought "gee, let's find more ways to mess with one of the largest money-makers to the French economy"...

duanep wrote:
08.09.08 at 3:38 PM

Yet another reason why the French Government is so jacked up - who was the "genious" over there who thought "gee, let's find more ways to mess with one of the largest money-makers to the French economy"...

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