Wine world has gone mad, according to Hugh Johnson

26 August, 2009

One of the world’s most famous wine writers and authors has attacked governments for demonising the drinking of wine

Hugh Johnson, the well known wine writer, has hit out at various governments that are demonising the drinking of wine in an effort to discourage people from drinking it.

Johnson’s comments come in the forward to the 33rd edition of the Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, now edited by Margaret Rand and published by Mitchell Beazley.

He accuses the British government of “chastising us” and France for “pussyfooting with the notion of prohibition”.

He says: “Those of us who love wine must be clear about what it is we cherish and why. We argue that wine, its properties, traditions, varieties, and indeed its effects, are a part of European culture and identity as important as any other.

“it is as much our right to enjoy them as it is to walk our streets or fish our rivers. And it is our duty to conserve such a cultural asset for the future,” he says.

He tears into the French government for claiming that wine is “a harmful product causing addiction” and a French minister who spoke of giving “consumers back their freedom of choice”.

He then goes onto describing the European Union of  “ an act of breathtaking stupidity” by trying to destroy the appellation contrôlée and its equivalents.

He agrees that France’s AC system is a “weary old warhorse” used cynically by many producers to “tick boxes”, and that it needs some reorganisation.

He concludes: “ In a year when money is short, Britain is chastising us, France is pussyfooting with the notion of prohibition and Europe is about to tear up the appellations that guide our enjoyment, we need to be sure of our priorities.

“As inheritors of something so rich and life-enhancing as the world of wine, we need to act in its defence,” says Johnson.