Wednesday, August 18, 2004
For the French wine industry as a whole, these are tough times. DomesticMany reasons are cited for the decline in demand, including the growth of competition from Australia and Chile. I find it both interesting and astonishing, however, that the article fails to mention the possibility that the slump has been exacerbated by the fact that many Americans, Tigerhawk included, have made a point of avoiding French products after their disingenuous behavior in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq. My own view is that this grass roots boycott is more than a trivial contributing factor to the French wine malaise, and the Glasgow Herald agrees.
consumption is down, foreign competition and the weak dollar have battered
exports, overproduction is rampant and needed changes are thwarted by obsolete
rules. Bordeaux has been hit particularly hard because it is the largest of the
country's wine regions and wine is central to its economy.
I wonder if the French are as blind to this as the New York Times appears to be.
I don't get it. Why boycott the French?
The French government did not support the U.S. in Iraq because it did not perceive that its interests would be advanced by going to war with Iraq. In this they were almost certainly correct.
In fact, I have a hard time seeing how American interests have been advanced by the war. It certainly had nothing to do with the war on terror, except perhaps to increase America-hatred in the Islamic world, thus creating more terrorists. That's what is known as counter-productive.
First, TigerHawk did not boycott French products. I did, however, switch to "coalition of the willing" products in an affirmative show of support for allies who did step to the plate. Why buy Beck's when you can buy Pilsner Urquel from the Czech Republic? Why buy French wine when Australian wine is wonderful? But since there is no good substitute for Boursin, you might as well still buy from the French.
Second, the Iraq war was and remains in American interests. That's a huge fight and a long essay to come, so let's not go there.
Third, the currency has to be a big part of it. The Euro has moved from about $0.90 to $1.23 in two years, which means that French wines are 1/3 more expensive for Americans than they were in the summer of 2002. Or the wine producers have had to cut prices in Euro terms just to stay even. Either way, it's a huge hit in a competitive business.
I've of mixed opinion on the French boycott. While emotionally sympathetic for political reasons, I believe France has two essential roles in the world: as curator of some of the world's great architecture and art, and as creator of exquisite wine and foodstuffs. Their days as a world power ended many many years ago, but I certainly hope they have a long future as a producer of fine wine, and it would be a shame if the Bordeaux vineyards were plowed under as a result of politics. I suspect they will not be.
As to your point about Iraq, I respectfully, and whole heartedly, disagree.
While my paternal Grandmother emigrated from Paris to NY in her 20s as a war bride, I do boycott the French.
The French made my friends who flew F-111s fly around France, complicating the attack on Mohammar Khadafi in Libya back in the 80s. They were pissed as they needed to add at least 2 more air refuelings + time to an already long mission. Furthermore, I take issue with the French attitude and actions regarding the war on Iraq.
The French have forgotten their friends and they have forgotten who has helped them in the past. (My Uncle, son of my French Grandmother, was an American glider pilot who helped resect the Germans from France.)
Grey Goose is good, but we've been drinking Kettle One in my house. But, of course, I don't tell my doc how much I consumer since I live in Pennsylvania and I still want to drive.
Tasty blog! Please check out my storage wine blog.