Don’t Say It’s Yummy…You Could Kill Someone

Everyone seems to think America has screwy wine laws. And we do. Chalk it up to our predominantly protestant heritage and the extreme temperance inclinations that go along with that broadly defined approach to worship.

But when you consider a recent change in the French alcohol advertising laws you really have to wonder if the French aren’t more screwed up than us.

Last week the French Senate hammered out a compromise with the country’s anti-alcohol contingent that vintners in that country hope will allow them to better compete in their own market place. A new amendment to the wine advertising laws will now make it legal to describe color, aroma and flavors of wines in print and television ads.

The question that just popped into your head was the right one: "They couldn’t do this before?"

For the most part French wine advertising has amounted to little more than a bottle shot and the name of the chateau or domaine. Nothing more. Why? Apparently the country’s anti-alcohol crusaders had convinced lawmakers that if winemakers were allowed to say something like, oh, like "Our family has been producing fine Bordeaux for 100 years" there was just too much of a possibility that people would go out and kill themselves with alcohol.

Wait, they can’t say that now, can they? No, if I read this correctly, only color, aroma and flavor can be offered in an ad. So, the new French ads may offer: "It’s red. It smells like berry and chocolate. It tastes like that too." That’ll sell more wine!

Is this crazy? Or am I just too unconcerned about potential alcohol abusers who might read something about a 100 year old winemaking family and choose to drink heavily?

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