The French wine industry wants wine to be given heritage status and protected under law.
Backed by prominent journalists, the industry says wine should be officially recognised as part of the cultural and gastronomic heritage of France.
Wine was recognised as an essential part of the ‘French gastronomic meal’ and declared an ‘intangible world heritage’ by UNESCO in November 2010, but it so far has no specific protection rights under French national law.
Foie gras, in contrast, was accorded protection as a ‘gastronomic and heritage product’ according to Article L63-27-1 in the French Rural Code from January 2006.
The push for wine to be given the same status dates back several decades, when the idea was first aired at the Assemblée Nationale in October 1958, but more recently it has been the preserve of the opposition parties in French politics.
The left lobbied for a law change in 2011, when Nicolas Sarkozy was in power, and last week 100 members of the right-wing UMP, mobilised by the MP Yves Fromion, again proposed the amendment.
Fromion told the Assemblée Nationale that French wine generated €6.5bn in 2011, is present in 66 of the 96 regions of France, and that French vineyards attract 7.5m visitors per year, with 2.5 coming from overseas.
‘Dynamic, responsible and creative, the French wine industry inspires our culture just as much as it sustains our economy... France is recognised as “the country of wine” and French wine remains a reference throughout the world.’
He said that the industry is already working with the government to promote education about healthy consumption, and that protecting AOC (Appellation Controlée) wines, made under strict quality controls, would be a just recognition of their status
AOC rules protect and control what is in the wine, the grape varieties, the methods of production and so on, while the new regulation would protect the status of wine itsel.
An online petition was launched this week by wine blogger Alain Fourgeot.
‘French wine is a living part of our heritage and should be recognised as such,’ he said, adding that legal protection for wine would ensure it was treated differently from spirits by the anti-alcohol lobby, and would make its status clearer for the restrictive Evin law that governs alcohol advertising in France.