April 04: French President Emmanuel Macron, known as The ‘two-glasses-a-day’ president, who is proud of wine as the cultural heritage of France, may have caused headache to the anti-wine health professionals, has become a de-facto Ambassador of the industry, writes Subhash Arora who is glad that after many years France has had a wine-loving President and indirectly is helpful to promote French wine sales, unlike India where the Head of State or his Ministers don’t dare to talk of their love for wine in publicthe powerful
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The young President Emmanuel Macron, has often stressed the cultural importance of wine for France, where it is one of the most profitable industries and the country has been one of the top consumers and producers in the world, with a majority of connoisseurs claiming French wines to be the best in terms of production, exportation and consumption. He has often admitted openly that he drinks two glasses of wine a day; infuriating many doctors who believe that people should know the negative impact of alcohol, even with one glass of wine.
President Macron who also said that French people should not be hassled about wine drinking was declared “Personality of the Year” by the La Revue du Vin, the most popular and influential wine magazine of France in January this year. This was the first time the newspaper awarded this recognition to a French president.
Macron made an especially good impression on the wine sector in 2018 when he assured the industry that during his term in office there would be no changes to toughen the Evin law that regulates advertising alcoholic beverages since 1991. In 2019, the French government quietly abandoned the annual campaign urging people to refrain from drinking alcohol during the month of January. Janvier Sobre promotes "total abstinence" of all alcohols.
The Connexion spoke to a wine association president, a political expert and a health professional about President Macron’s open sympathy for the industry. Stéphane Le Bras, wine historian and lecturer at the Clermont-Auvergne university says, “It is part of Mr Macron’s identity to think wine is part of the French art-de-vivre though he is perhaps not aware he thinks this way.” He said the president was part of a generation where wine was believed not causing alcoholism at the same level as spirits.
His comments have been criticised by health professionals, who accuse him of encouraging drinking against the advice of studies whose results showed the dangers of excessive wine consumption. “This is a clear sign of his political inclinations,” said Le Bras, implying that the president had sided with the wine industry rather than health experts. He is suspected to have close ties with the wine industry and lobbies. Audrey Bourolleau, an agriculture adviser in his cabinet, has been a former member of the wine lobby Vin & Société.
President Macron was also seen tasting wine at the Foire internationale des importations de Chine in Shanghai in 2019 alongside Chinese president Xi Jinping; many critics suggested that wine was being used as part of France’s diplomatic instrument.
Mr Macron’s views come at a time where France’s wine consumption is at its lowest since the 1960s. Wine was believed to be beneficial for health and until 1956 it was even served regularly during meals in schools to children as young as 14.
Comité National des Interprofessions des Vins à appellation d’origine et à indication géographique (CNIV), is one of France’s powerful wine associations of 23 such groups of industry wine professionals. Their President Didier Delzescaux says, ‘“I do not think Mr Macron is more kind to the wine sector than any other-at least, that is not the industry's perception. The industry is caught in a major crisis that is hindering production including the accelerating climatic catastrophes and the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump Tax imposed by President Trump on exports of wines to the US over a year ago.
The industry has also been affected by a steady decline in alcohol consumption among the French population, which has decreased from 128 litres per capita in 1960 to 36 litres in 2018, according to data compiled by France’s national statistics body (INSEE.).
Studies from the CNIV show that more and more people are turning away from alcohol to water and other non-alcoholic drinks, leaving the association studying alternatives to increase wine consumption as an aperitif. He agreed however, when suggested that Mr Macron showed less restraint and more moderation to issues related to the wine industry than former presidents, though stressing that his comments would not change the challenges the industry was facing.
It is of course, highly unlikely and absurd to wish that we might have a political leader in India leaning towards wine for decades-who would even dare admit in public that he imbibes a couple of glasses of wine with dinner -though one hopes he would do so in private. Officially, wine or any alcoholic beverage is barred from being served at a State Banquet or any public platform unlike China where President Xi Jinping is often clicked with a glass of red wine in his hand when foreign dignitaries meet him officially.
Voluntary Disclosure- delWine supports the concept of drinking 2 glasses of wine a day for men and 1 for women- preferably red wine and with dinner with a gap of two days in a week. You are advised to take the advice from your doctor and family though-editor
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