February 19, 2003
AUSTRALIAN WINEMAKERS are poised to clobber the French. Or they will be, after they read this column by Tim Blair.
UPDATE: Nick Schulz emails:
On two separate occasions in two different wine shops I overheard people saying to each other they would avoid the French wine selections - Italian and Australian were fine with them. We dined one night with a woman of French ancestry who said she was ashamed of her heritage, wouldn't drink French wines anymore, won't eat French cheeses either.
I thought this was all a little much after a while - a bit juvenile, perhaps. But something changed that. After overhearing one older gentlemen in a Publix - a big grocery store in Florida - say to his wife he wouldn't buy French wines, I said to him "I understand your sentiment". He tracked me down five minutes later in another part of the store to explain himself. He was a member of the 82nd Airborne. He had stormed the beaches in France and he and some of his buddies marched all the way to Berlin. The attitude of the French at this time - when the United States was asking for help - was simply incomprehensible to this guy. He understood it may not mean much, buying Barolo instead of Bordeaux. But the little gestures can sometimes mean a lot, especially when made by a stooped, withered old man who'd not only served his own country but served Europe as well. As for me, no more Beaujolais at Thanksgiving. I'll bet a lot of other American feel similarly.
With so many excellent Argentinean, Chilean, Australian -- and Bulgarian! -- wines available, it's not much of a sacrifice.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Chirac, et al., are underestimating the depth of hostility they're creating, and I think they expect it to blow over a lot faster than it, in fact, will.