French Wine Industry Tanks, But It Still Makes Best Vino

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2009 5:53 PM CDT
A sommelier eyes the 2008 edition of a Beaujolais Nouveau wine in a bar in Paris.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The French wine industry is in a tough spot, Mike Steinberger writes on Slate. “It is hemorrhaging market share abroad, domestic consumption continues to plummet, and thousands of vintners are in desperate financial straits.” What’s more, “the appellation system that regulates much of French viticulture is a shambles.” Sounds bad, but here’s the silver lining: “France is still the wine world's beacon and will surely remain so long into the future.”

France, by virtue of tradition and experience, turns out the best bottles. “No other place comes close to matching France for sheer number of bench-mark wines,” Steinberger writes. The French concept of terroir—matching grapes to the land and letting the soil speak—is central to its success, as are sheer variety and an easygoing attitude. “In France, wine continues to be regarded as a beverage, not a trophy, and that's an attitude worth importing.”