France converts unsold wine into hand gel

Headline is 2m hectolitres of unsold wine in EU-backed scheme, to be collected & converted to ethenol. The Grauniad doesnt spoil a good story by looking at underlying figures: in reality this is barely 4% of France’s annual production (approx 50 to 60M HL).

Lafite handgel anyone?


Not interested if it is offered en primeur :wink:


Magnums? :grinning:


A positive way out of a problem with benefit to the community. It would be such fun if the bottles told us the provenance of the gel-could be sold at a premium.

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I can feel a spoof wine merchant email coming on…

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Interesting that the headline says 2 million hectolitres , but the article says 3 million.

Have the French appointed the same person who was counting the gloves over here or something?


Who knows? it’s an example of crap journalism. Perhaps 2 (or 3) M. HL of French wine gets turned into medical grade ethanol every year in anyway?

I so wish I could be paid for wasted effort…

It’s an example of why journalism is a trade rather than a profession.

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I’m not sure if I agree with the sweeping profession / trade argument - but it does get my goat when it’s just laziness when a headline number changes in the main copy ! Jay Rayner and Andrew Jefford are heading towards being artists (on my opinion). Out of curiosity - what is the difference between a trade and a profession ?

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A profession is self-regulated setting qualification requirements in terms of e.g. exams, maintaining standards and disciplining members who breach those standards. Trades do not do the same.


I live in Armagnac. At the beginning of the Covid19 outbreak when there was a dire shortage of hand gel I suggested to a friend with a distillery that they should distill alcohol for hand gel (from leftover wine, brewed sugar or whatever). Armagnac stills have finished their production by March and so are standing idle for 9 months.
“Mon Dieu! C’est impossible” was the reply. He considered it far to difficult to get all the paperwork to allow the stills to be reopened. Nice to see that somehow the French authorities managed to find a bit of flexibility.
BTW my understanding is that the wine is being bought for 30cents/litre so I don’t imagine we will be disinfecting with distilled Laffitte any time soon.


Hello all, I support a factory in Chartres that has converted to hand sanitiser as a result of Covid-19. The French taxing and licensing authorities (consistent with the rest of the EU) has been incredibly supportive and flexible licensing, exempting from excise duties etc for sanitiser manufacture.

We are sourcing our ethanol from the Grey Goose distillery in Cognac, McCallans and Bombay Sapphire, all Bacardi owned distilleries.


Fascinating ! 30c per L is dire.

A side issue…(and I dont know if this still happens) - many years ago, I’m told that BP had a chemical works in Hull (Humberside) - converting petroleum biproducts into ethenol for Gordons Gin. Apparently it was more pure than plant based alcohol.