From You, Teacher. I Learned It From Watching You!


French winemakers are suffering. Consumption has plunged so sharply that producers are pulling up vines and distilling wine into ethanol. Thankfully, the French government now knows who's to blame: teetotaling kids. And they've got a re-education plan on tap:

French schools should teach young people how to appreciate wine, a group of parliamentarians said in a report Thursday, calling for an education campaign to help the ailing sector…

"To hold a forceful position in the world, French wine must first assume a strong position at home," the report said, calling for education programs to inform young people about the origins, history and characteristics of French wines.

"Learning about healthy living starts from childhood and primary school," said the report, compiled by Philippe-Armand Martin and Gerard Voisin, deputies from the ruling UMP party.

I've got nothing against marketing alcohol to children, especially in light of the fact that it doesn't seem to work -- but let's leave that kind of thing to martini-swilling, cigar-smoking capitalists rather than state-funded school teachers. At the same time, it's hard not to appreciate the French enthusiasm for serving alcohol to minors:

"When I was a child my father used to give me wine mixed with water because he was afraid plain water wasn't good for my health," said Georges Casellato, a Paris wine merchant.

Today, incidentally, is Repeal Day.

Via KipEsquire.

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  1. Still better than the American system of teaching kids that if you take even one sip of alcohol before you turn 21, you'll wind up a gutter-dwelling homeless wino.

  2. Hmm... maybe if we started encouraging heroin and meth use in our classrooms, usage rates would fall dramatically?

  3. I think this is a good thing. Not everyone learns about good alcohol at home. Some kids don't learn at home to avoid Natty Light and Beast Light. Think of the children.

  4. It's so good to see that the socialist nanny-state is willing to eschew it's idiotic principles and talk out of both sides of its mouth, in order to help out certain special interest groups.

    Anything that teaches kids about wine is good with me, though. However, I fear that these poor kids will be brainwashed, nonetheless, into believing that non-french wine is no wine at all.

    And they'll probably give all the kids little Michel Rolland voodoo dolls, too. Tee hee.

  5. Since this is about wine, I'll indulge in a shameless bit of self-promotion (which I apologize for in advance).

    This is The Winecommonsewer take from Friday on said French government action. Worth clicking through to Fermentation just to see the photo.

  6. When I was a child my father used to give me wine mixed with water because he was afraid plain water wasn't good for my health

    When I was a kid my dad used to say that was exactly why the French and Italians drank wine; because the water wasn't safe to drink. Drinking water in those countries in those days would give you something like the Euro-version of Montezuma's Revenge.

  7. I drank a lot as a child. I found it dulled the pain of sodomy.

    Read it all in my memoirs.

  8. For THAT class, I would have done my homework.

    Actually, I would have put in for extra study.

  9. They are just trying to lower the projected costs of late-in-life health care. Get the kids started on wine early, and the French Paradox kicks in that much sooner and longer.


  10. Off topic: I'd like to say that Reason has been remiss in not covering the Fiji story, where a man with a name that is suspiciously close to Bananarama has taken power.

  11. This is just plain irresponsible to encourage alcohol abuse by children under 21, because we all know that at the age of 21, at midnight, but not one picosecond before, the ability to use alcohol responsibly occurs, without ever having been shown responsible use beforehand.

  12. Ask MADD if people over 21 can drink responsibly.

  13. I learned a lot about wine coolers in middle school and turned out ok.

    Any spare change?

    Seriously, the stuff in the 2 liter bottles that tasted like a tangy flat Sprite? Oh yes.

  14. Ask MADD if people over 21 can drink responsibly.

    Impossible, not even if they are 20 years, 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds old.

    At the instant the child turns 21 it is a possibility.

    As a sidenote, the effects of overeating

  15. Interesting. My knee-jerk liberal and francophile roommate told me there was a decrease in vineyards because of global warming.

  16. Actually, there is a global glut of wine, and French wines can no longer command the prices they once did, in competition with wines from everywhere, including those from California. (I'm waiting for Alaska and Antarctica to join the party.)

    A few years ago, we were hearing about how a lot of California land, which had previously been pasture for cattle, or used for other crops, was being planted with vineyards; wine was, at the time, more profitable than other forms of agriculture. I have to admit that the once desolate drive down Highway 101 from Salinas to San Luis Obispo is now a lot prettier because of this transformation.

    The other day, I was urged to purchase a particularly nice wine that I was tasting, because that was its last bottling, since the old growth vineyard that produced the grapes to make the wine was going to be pulled up to create -- an office complex and a strip mall!

    It isn't just France, mes amis. Maybe California needs to start serving wine as a part of the school lunch program.

  17. I'll figure out how to complain about this once I get over my fit of envy of French schoolchildren.

  18. James,

    "Actually, there is a global glut of wine, and French wines can no longer command the prices they once did, in competition with wines from everywhere, including those from California. (I'm waiting for Alaska and Antarctica to join the party.)"

    All too true. The big reason why they're selling AOC fruit to the EU to be distilled into commercial/rubbing alcohol is because they refuse to sell the wine at reduced prices...because they feel that it cheapens the industry and will permanently drive prices down. That, and the stupidass EU is willing to pay them for the extra grapes.

    The problem here is the French refusal to face the reality of a global market. No amount of education about French wine is going to change that fact.

    While, again, I have no problem with teaching wine in schools, methinks the kids could be better served with an economics that taught them the dangers of socialist/interventionist/protectionist economic policies. But good luck getting that in France...

  19. The French make good wine, of course, but on the whole they really are crappy at marketing to the overseas market, which really harms their chances at competing with vinters that have sprung up all over the world. When they typical wine lover wants to try something different with dinner, he or she has a lot easier time figuring out what might be a good match with non-French wines, and not just those fron English-speaking countries. Italian, Spanish, and South American wines, among others are marketed much better than French wines.

  20. "Good evening, children, today we lairn how to drink ze wine . . . oops, I see zat it is time for me to walk out of ze class to join ze pooblic-sector strike. Zis week we aire striking for . . . let's see . . . ah, yes, more monnai. So please to remain in class until ze government caves in to our demands or else collapses. . . . And, Abdul and Zafir, your request to be excused from ze class has been denied, but to show our sensitivity to ze Moozlem concerns, we will give you ze extra credit for firebombing ze synagogue last week . . ."

  21. Will Allen,

    You have a good point about French wines being poorly marketed. I am something of a wine illiterate who loves French wine, but I rarely buy it because I have no idea what's what. The French system of naming wines after the region rather than the grape like the rest of the world even screws up the Robert Parker subscribing wine nut I work with.

  22. Last night, the whole family celebrated Repeal Day with champagne at dinner (well, not the real thing, but seven-dollar-a-bottle Spanish Cava; we aren't made of money, you know). Even the 17-year old who loved beer as a baby but now doesn't care much for the taste of alcohol had a few token sips, because of the principle of the thing.

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