Sacré bleu! Millions of bottles of ‘French’ rosé have been discovered to be fakes containing cheaper Spanish wine.
Up to 22% of the businesses audited by the agency in 2016, and 15% of those in 2017, were cited for trying to pass-off foreign wine as French. The report claims that as much as 3.45m liters of Spanish wine entered the country during this time, disguised as domestic rosé using either misleading or altogether false labels.
Tactics like obscuring the wine’s origin on packaging, or “Frenchifying” bottles using images of the country’s flag, or fictional, French-looking chateau were commonplace. So, too, was the use of confusing phrases such as “Produced in France” or “Bottled in France.”
Deceiving consumers in this way is a serious offense in France, and guilty producers face penalties of up to two years in prison and €300,000 fines (approximately $350,000).
According to French daily newspaper Le Parisien, in 2016 and 2017, French rosé fetched up to 60 cents more per liter than its Spanish counterpart.
The finding is unlikely to help cool tensions in an ongoing “guerre des vins” between the two nations. In recent years, French farmers have used tractors to block border roads, halting imports, and have even gone as far as hijacking tankers containing bulk Spanish wine, and emptying the liquid onto the road.