Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More democracy or more logic or more respect for tradition?

EU bureaucracy once again comes into conflict with cultural practice. Does the EU need more democracy? Do French wine makers need more logic? Do the member countries need more power? Does color alone define a rosé wine? What a tangled web international regulations weave.

French Vintners Find E.U. Concoction Unpalatable

"To the buttoned-down European Union bureaucrats in Brussels, the idea was simple: squeeze costs, conquer new markets, maximize profits. But to the vintners of Taradeau, a sun-splashed Provencal village 800 miles to the south -- and a world away, mentally -- it was an attack on their Mediterranean heritage, a crack in French civilization, a fraud against wine lovers everywhere.

"Never, they cried, can you mix a bucket of red wine into a barrel of white and call it rosé. Only the age-old process in which grape skins macerate in the juice for a finely calculated moment before fermentation, they protested, can produce the seductive color, fruity aromas and delicate structure of a true rosé. Mixing red and white, they sniffed, may make something pink to drink, but it is not rosé wine...

"Johan Reyniers, a spokesman for the commission in Brussels, said E.U. officials meant well and had their reasons: They were seeking to arm European vintners for competition in emerging markets such as China, where producers from Australia and South Africa, for example, do not hesitate to mix red wine with white and undersell European rosé by several dollars a bottle. Anyway, he added, relaxing Europe's rosé rules was only "one little thing" in a vast program to unshackle the wine industry from outdated regulations.

"The clashing perspectives -- this "one little thing" is a way of life in the hills of Provence -- have once again pitted France's tradition of good living and great gastronomy against the seemingly unstoppable march of economic imperatives. Across the country, from wine cellars to cheese vats, from sausagemakers to bakers, artisans are confronted by 21st-century demands for efficiency, cost-cutting and homogenization..."

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