New French Innovation for Using Surplus Wine

A French Herd
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A few minutes ago I discovered a new French innovation for using surplus wine: feed it to cows.  Not kidding.  ABC News reports that French winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy [sic] is feeding his cows two bottles of wine a day.  The claim is that the beef tastes better.  Internal marination, anyone?  Instant bœuf bourguignon?

The original story was reported by Agence France-Presse.  If your French is up to the task, here’s the link to the original story.  The rest of us will have to make do with Google Translate.

Naturally, there is a name for this exciting new product: Vinbovin.  And, not surprisingly, the Agence France-Presse story includes this wonderful quote: “…administrateur du syndicat des éleveurs héraultais], who believes ‘the better the quality of the wine the better the meat.’ ” (Apologies for the French in the square brackets, but I’m very sure Google Translate couldn’t handle that.  Anyone who can help is invited to contact me.]

There is actually some wine economics at work here.  When we attended the first meeting of the American Association of Wine Economists, a speaker from France presented a paper about the impact of European Union subsidies for wine.  When government subsidizes an activity, it encourages more of that activity.  Wine is no exception.  Some is sold to make brandy.  Last time I looked you could buy excellent French brandy at very low prices.  (I am restricted to wine, but I did allow myself one small sip of a brandy sample.)  Now we have a new use.  Consider a herd of 50 cattle.  Two 750 ml bottles per day per cow equals about 75 liters per day.  Let’s assume the cows only get wine 300 days a year.  A single small French herd can soak up 22,500 liters of wine a year.  At nine liters per case, that’s 2,500 cases per year, about 5,975 gallons.  That will soak up a whole lot of the excess supply.

About the author

Tony Lima has been a California wine fan since arriving in California from the east coast in 1974. He's lived the growth and expansion of the West Coast industry first hand. He's seen the fickle California Wine consumer fads pop up and burst... the craze for Zinfandel, then oaky Chardonnay, then Merlot, now Pinot Noir. On behalf of fellow Californian oenophiles, he hunts for great pinot noir and great values in pinot noir all along the West Coast. His day job is Professor of Economics at California State University located in Hayward. His undergrad degree in chemical engineering (MIT) and his MBA (Harvard) and Ph.D. Economics (Stanford) are the root of his interest in the Business of Wine. He is a card-carrying member of the AAWE - American Association of Wine Economists.

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