French wine tax plans will ‘cork the industry’

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Furious wine makers launch campaign against tax hike and tighter advertising rules they claim would be 'very bad for the image of France'.

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When one thinks of France, one thinks of wine. But the country’s armies of wine makers could be forgiven for drowning their sorrows in a bottle of Beaujolais at French senators’ proposal to raise taxes on wine, “quelle horreur!” reports FRANCE 24.

Despite the fury of French wine producers, there is one inescapable fact: the tax in France on wine is currently 10 times lower than that on beer. This means a 750ml bottle of wine is taxed at 2.7 cents while the same quantity of beer is taxed at 27 cents.

The proposal is not only looking to raise much needed taxes for France’s empty coffers, senators are also making it a health issue. The proposed bill is also looking to lower national alcohol consumption rates, introduce tough new laws regarding “propaganda and publicity” about wine, and introduce stricter alcohol warnings on labels.

The powerful wine lobby – which represents France’s second-largest export industry – has emerged from its hangover fighting and mobilised a publicity blitz, with the Vin et Société (Wine and Society) pressure group last week pouring cash into a campaign to get the French public on side.

According to Audrey Bourolleau, managing director of the influential Vin et Société, the plan threatens this most French of traditions and would be “very bad for the image of France.”

The group, which represents some 500,000 winemaking professionals in France, launched a website titled “Ce Qui Va Vraiment Saouler les Français” (“What Will Really Annoy the French” -- though "saouler" also means “to get drunk”). On Monday, it told FRANCE 24 that the site had already received more than 150,000 hits in just four days.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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