Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In Vino Veritas

How lucky we are, living in France, that we are not at the mercy of a nanny government that seeks to curb our every right and one that has now, surely, taken a step too far, a step that would, in a nation with any backbone, result in revolution.
I refer, of course, to that incursion into the private life of the secret suburban wine drinker.
I was alarmed to find that, since being introduced to wine at the age of about ten, when it was a permanent feature of our family meal, I must have consumed several thousand times as much of this noxious (in the eyes of the British government) substance as is good for me. Good!
Our village here in the French countryside has a population of 1400 and is home to nine wine producers, much of whose product is, I’m sure, sunk by the locals. I understand that milk is available to special order and the farm at the back of the house does have a few dairy cows loitering about, but the “boisson du jour” is definitely vinous.
And yet, I have never seen a drunken local and the average life expectation appears to be in the low nineties.
But to hear the British government, it would seem that the population would be much healthier having the odd slurp of cyanide, and no doubt surveillance cameras will soon be installed in every British home to ensure that their guidelines are not exceeded by Dad uncorking a second bottle.
Years ago, every bar in France had a huge poster on the wall announcing the evils of drunkenness. “Repression de l’Ivresse” it would announce to the Gauloise smoking, pastis drinking patrons. They seem to have disappeared, the posters, not the patrons, so either it worked and fewer got drunk, or it failed and they just ran out of posters.
So wine labels in Britain will now carry a diminutive version of this warning. Cigarette packets have done so for some years and I wonder how many smokers, reaching for a gasper, have been brought up short on reading the dire prediction thereon, and tossed the pack away. I’m not much of a gambler but I bet you it’s not too many.
It is, of course, too fine a point for anyone as dense as a government to see, but it’s not wine that is the problem – it’s people. Civilised nations don’t drink wine to get drunk, they drink for the pleasure of the taste and as an invaluable, indeed, essential, aid to the enjoyment of good food.
But Britain seems to be a nation of binge eaters and drinkers, which will, I suppose, metamorphose into a nation of overweight alcoholics.
I’m sure the labels on a wine bottle will bring a rapid halt to this. The legacy of the Blair Presidency (well, what else would you call it? Dictatorship?) is to impose these sort of piffling regulations as though all the electorate were complete and total morons and not just those that voted them in.
In Vino Veritas goes the old saying. No doubt that’s why the government wants to put a curb on wine drinking. Truth will out.
Meanwhile, as soon as I can find the corkscrew, I’m into my second bottle.

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