Vinexpo is opening in Bordeaux in 2 days. The wine industry is as usual in that period under the scrutiny of international media since it is one of the strong events of the business. Weirdly enough two European governments chose this moment to announce new laws or reinforcement of existing laws in two countries, well known for producing great wines, France and Turkey. In Turkey, law number 6487 would put a lot of restrictions on the promotion and sale of alcohol. In France, the (in)famous Evin law would be reinforced: bloggers, whether they are producers, marketers or journalists would not be able to write about wine anymore or use social media to express themselves.
What is behind those projects? Taner Öğütoğlu, Director of Wines of Turkey, told Andrew Jefford: “We don’t know how to react. If there was a big threat of alcoholism, we would understand the need for legislation. But there isn’t; the level is very low here in Turkey – much less than 1% of the population. What the government is doing is bringing in religiously orientated restrictions.” Jefford also talked to the President of the Turkish Wine Producers’ Association, Ali Başman of Kavaklidere on the same topic: “[...] the law would make it hard for new products to be launched and discussed, for new restaurants wishing to serve alcohol to open, for wineries to sell on the internet and for ordinary Turks and overseas visitors to visit vineyards.”
For French health officials, Internet is the favorite media of young people. By forbidding wine professionals to write about alcohol, including wine, on blogs and social media, health official hope to decrease binge drinking. In “real life”, young people don’t go on the Web to learn about alcohol, they go to the supermarket to buy spirits.
Is edicting a law the right way to prevent alcoholism or binge drinking? Prohibition in the US showed the inefficiency of such tactics. Alcohol became even more seductive because it was forbidden. Education on the other hand is a good way to promote moderation and to teach how wine is linked to the history and the culture of a country.
I wish a lot of people will attend the tasting organized by the Wines of Turkey during Vinexpo and will then testify of the long and beautiful history of those wines. I also wish that our politicians will come to Vinexpo, talk to producers and professionals passionate about their craft and business, taste some great wines from all over the world and come to realize that wine like music is one of the most powerful links between civilizations.