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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.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud