It’s been a more than month since I arrived in Paris and I’m now a week away from flying home to Boston. “Back in good old Boston, home of the bean and the cod. Where the Lowells only talk to Cabots, and the Cabots only talk to God.” I apologize for this moment of pretentious culture; I do love my Boston Brahmin lore.
But, as I often do, I digress. Even though I’m more than ready to go back, I had a great time in France. Family-wise, friends-wise and of course, wine-wise, everything went well. I use an app called Vivino to track what I drink, it’s pretty convenient and it helps structure and document my wine journey. I decided to do a little analysis of my Vivino log for the last 30 days. I had more than 45 different wines over that 30 days period. Granted, it covered the holidays period when it is more socially acceptable. I’m not concerned about this overall number.
What is interesting is the fact that, except for one bottle from Lebanon, one from South Africa, and one from the Priorat, 42 wines out of 45 were French. It is not a bad thing but it illustrates a point I made a few months ago, French people, and people in France tend to drink French wine. The offer in foreign wines in basic wine shops remains minimal, with the notable exception of Italian (Chianti) and Spanish (cava, Rioja) wines.
It’s not particularly surprising. It’s also not just an elitist or snobby thing, it might be simple economics. France is either the first or second producer of wine in the world depending on the year (Italy being the other biggest producer). And even though we export a fair amount of wine, roughly a third of our yearly production, we still consume most of it domestically. At this point it’s demographics combined with economics: We produce 20% of the wine in the world and we consume two thirds of this production which means 13% of the wine produced in the world is drunk in France.
By comparison, Australia’s wine industry is geared towards exportation. Only 40% of the wine produced in Australia is sold locally, the remaining 60% are exported (mainly to the UK where Australian wines lead all other countries in terms of sales).
Considering that drinking locally is easier because you avoid transport and importations taxes, it’s often a better bargain to drink local in France. And of course, there is the protectionist and patriotic reflex. Lack of choice however is a real thing.
That’s one of the many reasons I’m ready to go home. I want to drink some Australian Shiraz I read about, I want to try more Napa Cabernet; I want to compare them to French wines from similar varieties. I want variety, I want new things, I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep. Eh, no, scratch the last one, I got carried away in my own rambling. I don’t like New-York that much. Give me an non-rhotic accent over a nasal one, it’s easier on the ears.
Anyway, more wine this weekend, I have a bottle of Hermitage I have to get into. I told you, there is nothing wrong with French wine.