Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is Bordeaux in cartons the last straw for French wine?

Purists are spluttering over their decanters after a fine wine-maker announced plans for drinkers to take their wine through a straw from small plastic cartons.

The containers, like those used for lunchbox-sized fruit juices, go on sale in supermarkets next month in the latest attempt by the French wine industry to boost consumption among young urbanites.

Produced by Cordier Mestrezat, which has been selling fine wines since 1886, the 25cl product, called Tandem, will arrive in Britain next week at the London International Wine Fair.

“Instead of buying a soda to go with their sandwich, people might want a bit of Bordeaux,” David Bolzan, the managing director of Cordier Mestrezat, said. “If you’re having lunch at your desk and you want a drop of wine, you’re not going to get a bottle, a glass and a corkscrew. But you could buy a carton.”

His box comes with a “sensory straw” with four holes to send a spray of wine around the palate and “ensure you enjoy exactly the same sensations as with a wine glass”, according to Cordier Mestrezat.

However, traditionalists said that the initiative would deprive them of two of their greatest pleasures – the wine’s bouquet and colour. “You won’t be able to smell the wine before drinking it and that’s very important to me,” said AurĂ©lien Maubert, a salesman at Lavinia wine store in Paris. “And you won’t be able to see it either inside the carton. I certainly won’t be buying this.”

But with annual wine consumption in France falling from 100 litres per person to 54 litres during the past 40 years, Mr Bolzan said that it was important for producers to move with the times.

Adam Sage
Paris, France