when wine was adorned with all virtues

“Wine is food. Drink Wine”, intimidate the postal service stamp in the 1930s, thus paraphrasing Louis Pasteur. Didn’t the inventor of the vaccine write that in 1866 “natural wine” is “the healthiest, most hygienic drink”and in addition one “food” fully developed? As is “Nectar of the Gods” escapes, with beer, cider and perry, the warnings of anti-alcohol associations. “A liter of 10° wine [la valeur moyenne de ces décennies, NDLR] corresponds as food to 900 g milk, 370 g bread, 585 g meat, 5 eggs »so assures the National Wine Propaganda Committee, recognized as being of public utility in 1930. An ideal “food” for a population then 70% worked in the fields or factories? “The ‘holiest bottle’ brings everyone together”, sums up academic Didier Nourrisson*. Understandably in Pasteur’s time – when water treatment was in its infancy – the claim that wine and health went hand in hand no longer held true in the interwar period in the face of advances in plant engineering, however patchy and perfect.

In a France occupied with 500,000 drinking establishments in 1900 and holder of the world record for alcohol consumption, wine was constantly promoted, favored by the aura of a “Père Pinard”, considered to be one of the architects of the victory in 1918 Mass produced in Languedoc and of poor quality, this great red, fuel for the trenches, really took a place of choice for war propagandists: “Pinard do you want to drink”, order “the hairy ten commandments”. And a poster of the great war for questions: “To be happy, what do you need? A little woman, booze and booze! »

“Drink wine and live happily”

In 1933, the Ministry of Agriculture distributed a poster, signed by the great advertiser Leonetto Capiello, with a clear slogan: “Drink wine and live happily”, commissions the campaign, which features an all-smiling couple emerging from a Hexagon studded with bunches of grapes. In the political field, the producer lobby can count on the socialist Édouard Barthe: a native of the “world capital of wine” that was Béziers, Barthe is nicknamed “the representative of wine”. And with good reason: chairman of the propaganda committee in favor of wine – in particular campaign to accustom children to his taste – Barthe published in 1935 The Faculty of Medicine’s rehabilitation of wine, its nutritional and therapeutic qualitiesbased on Doctor François Dougnac’s thesis, defended two years earlier and emphasized the dimension “hygienic and therapeutic” of the wine’s product. Between medicine and elixir of youth, “stimulates circulatory, respiratory and cerebral functions”ensures the professional.

“87% of 100-year-olds are wine drinkers, wine is old people’s milk.”

It is therefore not surprising that, from 1933, the publisher Taride, a pioneer in timetables, published on the first page of its collection the essential quotation from Pasteur, embellished with statements encouraging consumption: “A meal without wine is a day without sunshine… Average human life: 59 years for a water drinker, 65 years for a WINE DRINKER; 87% of 100-year-olds are wine drinkers, wine is old people’s milk. » Ideas that are also put to music, as Lucien Boyer sings in 1935: “He who drinks wine always has a smile (…) he who drinks water turns yellow like wax”Where “from wine springs hope, from water is born defeat”… without forgetting the pipe during the occupation that was Ah! The little white wine signed Jean Dréjac in 1943.

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Ubiquitous, wine is also served in school canteens: “Parents used to give a bottle of wine cut with water to their children when they went to school”, says historian Stéphane Le Bras. Decided by the Ministry of National Education in 1956, the ban on carafes of red wine in canteens, reflecting the beginnings of a national policy to combat alcoholism, remains limited to those under 14… until the ban reached secondary schools in 1981. A sign in time, the number of bars, which fell to 200,000 in 1960, will fall to 38,500 in 2016.

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