Free wine tastings in France could be banned if a suggested amendment to the public health bill is accepted by the government.
The amendment, known as ‘article 24’, was tabled by health minister Roselyne Bachelot and discussed by the cabinet last week. The proposal, which outlaws all ‘free alcoholic drinks with the intention of promotion’, would effectively ban wine tastings in the country.
Events including the en primeur barrel tastings in Bordeaux, the Vinexpo wine exhibition, due to be held next year, and all other activities involving wine tasting would have to be paid for by the tasters.
Article 24 is set to be debated by the French parliament early next year. According to French news website nouvelObs.com, Bachelot expects the amendment to be in force by the end of January 2009.
‘Of all the current constraints against the wine industry, this is potentially the most damaging,’ Sylvie Cazes, president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, told decanter.com. ‘France is the second biggest producer of wine in the world, but is alone in putting barriers up against its promotion. It is absurd.’
The projected law change was one of the main grievances of demonstrators who descended onto the streets of Bordeaux, Angers, Colmar, and other winegrowing centres yesterday to protest against the government’s stance on wine.
As part of the controversial Evin Law regulating alcohol and tobacco advertising in France, it is currently considered illegal to use the internet to promote alcohol.
Written by Jane Anson, and Oliver Styles