Alarm-wijnetiket gevreesd

Een maaltijd zonder wijn is een beetje droevig. Uitspraak van de Franse president Macron, die alles in het werk stelt om de Franse rel rondom de negatieve uitspraken van de minister van Volksgezondheid te sussen. Alle organisaties die iets met wijn te maken hebben vinden dat de minister, Agnès Buzyn, de betekenis van wijn voor de natie in termen van cultuur, erfgoed en economie heeft gebagatelliseerd. De minister heeft als verweer ter tafel gebracht dat zij uitsluitend heeft willen wijzen op de risico’s voor de gezondheid, maar heeft dat onhandig verpakt door wijn ‘slecht’ te noemen en als ‘bevatter’ van alcohol te vergelijken met whisky en wodka. De wijnindustrie vreest er straks toe te worden verplicht waarschuwingen tegen de gevaren van wijn op de etiketten te zetten. In dat geval zal op ernstig verzet moet worden gerekend. Wat daaronder wordt verstaan hebben wijnboeren al herhaaldelijk met stakingen en vernielingsacties getoond, bijvoorbeeld omdat goedkope Spaanse import van bulkwijn als oneerlijke concurrentie wordt beschouwd. Inmiddels volgt de internationale wijnpers het verloop van het conflict van dag tot dag. Hier een samenvatting van Barnaby Eales van het Britse Harpers:

 

“French winemakers are up in arms over the French government’s plan to curb excessive alcohol consumption, which may lead to health warnings on wine bottles.

Frederic Rouanet, chairman of the militant Aude winemakers union, has predicted widespread protests, if the French government’s health minister Agnes Buzyn adopts such a measure this year.

Buzyn recently said the previous message 'drink in moderation – the abuse of alcohol is dangerous’ French slogan, was no longer relevant: "Alcohol is dangerous for your health is the message," she said in a debate on French TV.

Buzyn's comments have drawn the wrath of the wine industry, including the chairman of Bordeaux's wine board, when she added, that in terms of pubic health, “wine was the same as drinking beer, vodka or whisky. There is zero difference."

“The wine industry wants today, to believe that that wine is different from other alcoholic drinks,” she said.

Bernard Farges, chairman of Bordeaux’s wine board, the CIVB, has since accused the minister of making "infantile and hygienist proposals".

France’s powerful wine lobby, Vin et Societé, said Buzyn had provoked a "scandal" in the wine industry by going against the tide of the political direction of travel indicated by French President Macron, who it said had encouraged the lobby group to participate in the drawing up of a new prevention plan against excessive alcohol consumption.
A known oenophile, Macron last year said: “A meal without wine is a bit of a sad meal.”


Change of tone

A spokesman at Vin et Societé, which represents producers and growers, however, told Harpers that, the mood in the wine industry had for now “calmed” after it had won assurances this week from the French government over the lobby group’s prevention policy role.
“The minister of health is particularly concerned by binge drinking and drinking by pregnant women,” the spokesman said.
Its change of tone follows a move from French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, to calm the anger of the French wine industry, who last week said: "We will take on the problem head on and we will at the same time, respect the particular place which wine has in French culture and agriculture, but we are not going to kid ourselves by saying there is no problem [with alcohol] in public health,” he said.
“Everyone knows that wine must be drunk in moderation,” he added.

Anger in the wine industry has risen after the health minister launched a campaign against alcohol abuse last year, which featured corkscrews.

And in the outlines of the government’s National Health Strategic Plan 2018- 2022, wine is classed the same level as ‘legal and illicit psychoactive substances’.

Meanwhile, Cognac producers remain concerned over a government move on the table to increase indirect taxation on the consummation of strong drinks over 15% abv.”