France joins the real world

Mon dieu! France is lowering itself to keep up with the rest of the wine-producing world.

The world as we know it ended earlier this week when France decided it had to make a move now that it exports fewer bottles of wine than Italy and Spain, and Australia is creeping up on it.

France now will allow growers to make and market their product in what one wine writer calls "the fruity fashion of the New World."

Adding wood chips, tannins and using other techniques will be possible in a new category of mid-quality wine defined by grape variety rather than by origin. Put more simply, winemakers may grow the classic Alsace gewurtztraminer grape anywhere in the country and sell it as gewurtz in the new category called "Wine of France."

The measure is part of a five-year plan to win back market share from foreign competitors. That means simplyfying and taking short-cuts.

(See my earlier posts on the overall topic:

French facing wine bottle shortage
• French court ruling assailed
French wine scandal in the making
• Sippy box Bordeaux a big gamble
• About those ‘French wine’ labels …
• French wood chip debate takes new turn
• Worried French put wood in wine, not vice-versa)

None of these changes, however, will do anything to rid the world of the French snobbery that is part of its wine world. For example, The Times of London quotes Jean Claude Ruet, chief sommelier at the Paris Ritz hotel, as saying, "I have faith in the savoir faire of French winemakers. We will not fall as low as the Americans, who make vin rosé that is sugary and fizzy like soda.”

The Wine of France category is being created along with two others. One will correspond to a specific area, and the other will cover the AOC appellation, of which there are 457.

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