Too Much French Wine?
The LA Times has an interesting article on the current state of French wine. French winemakers are fighting to make their wines more interesting to consumers. For many years, the French enjoyed the reputation of making the best wine but now with California, Australia, Chile and other places producing much of the world's wine, the French are looking at new strategies to make their wine more palatable to the world's wine drinkers. Even the French aren't drinking as much, aggressive drunk driving laws have contributed to a sharp reduction in wine consumption. There is also too much French wine. The government is paying grape growers to turn surplus wine in to industrial alcohol. French winemakers hoping to capture U.S. attention face an uphill battle both because "New World" wine is labeled in a more user-friendly way and because of the falling dollar. Two places that are doing well for the French are the champagne market (perhaps boosted by the educational ad campaign on Champagne) and the top end of the market. Those who know wine are still eagerly buying up the best French vintages. The struggle seems to be converting the mid-range consumer into being a Francophile. It's a tricky situation causing the French to have to decide between having more wine drinkers and keeping their snob cachet.