In recent years, the number of wine drinkers in France has withered like over-ripe grapes on a vine.
The post-war days of oenophilic glory – when most Frenchmen saw away each day with a wine glass in their hand – are now a hazy memory. Only 17 per cent now say they drink wine daily; 38 per cent say they don’t drink it at all. Sacrebleu!
Hausmann Famille, a branch of Châteaux en Bordeaux, is now taking drastic steps to safeguard its business. As of next month, they are introducing a red wine with, err, cola mixed into it. Rouge Sucette (red lollipop), “best served chilled”, will go on sale for a mere €2.30 (£2) a bottle in shops around the country. The hope, Hausmann says, is to attract France’s Coca-Cola generation to the joys of the grape.
Nicolas Clerc, Frenchman and beverage manager at London’s Old Bengal Warehouse, is unconvinced. “I suspect this has been created for the Asian market, where sweeter wines like certain German Rieslings are very popular. But it isn’t inconceivable that it could do well in supermarkets in France, though not restaurants.”
Of course, Coke with wine isn’t totally unknown in Europe, being almost a staple drink for Spanish teenagers. But in France? One suspects the spiritual children of Madame Bollinger will meet its sale with a big fat "NON".