Subject to ratification by the senate, on Friday 6th March the French government gave a reprieve to wine tastings and wine festivals (see my previous post) in their proposed new health laws concerning alcohol sold through ‘Open Bars’. (The term is used in France to denote – usually – student bars where a fixed payment at the door allows unlimited consumption of alcohol).
They also agreed on Monday 9th March to formally allow alcohol sales and promotion via Internet, though these will be subject to the same stringent conditions that the Loi Evin imposes requiring a warning statement. They have incidentally decided to raise the minimum age for purchase of alcohol from 16 to 18. The wine industry will live to see another day – just.
These decisions were part of a greater debate on reforms within the health sector in France. Much of the anti-wine discussion focuses on links between supposed heightened cancer risk and wine drinking. Tomorrow (11th March) results are due from a huge 3-year study in France on links between wine and cancer. Findings are expected to show, conversely, only positive protective effects against cancer from moderate wine consumption.
It is doubly ironic that whilst the health proposals were being debated, a different French government department announced the creation of a Wine Tourism Ministry – see Jane Anson’s post on the New French Paradox.