French Winemakers Steamed Over ‘Dangers of Wine’ Essay Topic

By Betty Carlson
Cuisine Quotidienne

Competition from New World wines, modifications in the European Union subsidy system, declining wine consumption in France: the French wine industry is already reeling from the changes wrought by modern market forces. But the latest blow to strike the vineyards has nothing to do with trade, consumers — or even wood chips.

On June 16th, French high school seniors took part of their national final test, the Baccalauréat. One of the agricultural science subjects was entitled Wine and its dangers. Students were required to spend three and a half hours churning out a four-part essay about wine, blood alcohol level, safe driving, and French winemakers responsibility for water pollution.

I find this scandalous, said Michel Allemand of the Gard department winemakers collective. One more time, theyre associating wine with alcohol. Had the subject been about alcohol, I wouldnt be so upset.

Jean Clavel, a writer for the specialized site Vitisphere, wonders if the exam subject was an act of thoughtlessness or deliberate provocation, and implies that students having taken the test will always associate wine with danger.

Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau has promised to sanction the guilty exam writers, calling the topic choice a grave error.

Editor’s note: Betty Carlson lives with her French husband and children in Southwest France, where she teaches college English.

Also check out the 6-21-06 post by Tom Wark entitled An Insider’s Top 10 Tips for a Successful Wine Country Visit.

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