SENATORS have moved to protect the French wine industry by passing an amendment recognising that “wine, product of the vine and wine-growing lands” is a vital part of the cultural, gastronomic and pastoral heritage of France.
Although seemingly obvious, France has never before explicitly named wine as part of its national heritage and the move comes after proposals from a Senate committee last autumn to impose higher taxes, advertising restrictions and even to ban mention of any health benefits.
In response, Senator Roland Courteau, from the wine-making department of Aude, had moved to amend the agriculture law going through parliament to recognise France’s “2,000-year-old heritage in wine, transmitted from generation to generation” that had given the country world-wide renown.
The amendment was adopted unanimously and Mr Courteau said the industry could now move to protect the name of its wines in the “face of attacks and false links with other strong alcoholic drinks”.
Last year the Senate’s committee overseeing social security spending considered calls for an increase in taxes on wine as members heard that alcohol had been blamed for 49,000 French deaths in 2009. Senators heard that whereas just 3% of Italians died from alcohol-related illness this claimed the lives of 13% of French men.
At the time MPs from the wine-growing Gironde department replied saying that wine could not be linked to the deaths and pointed out that the wine industry spent just €200million on advertising while manufacturers of hard spirits spent €970m.
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