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Weird World: Unsold French wine to be turned into hand sanitizer

Pouring red wine into glasses in the vineyard at sunset

French winemakers will turn unsold stock into hand sanitizer.

Companies were left with liters of unsold wine due to the coronavirus lockdown, which will now be distilled for the production of hand sanitizer and ethanol.

Didier Josso, head of the wine branch at farming agency FranceAgriMer, said at a video conference: “From tomorrow, 33 licensed distillers will be able to collect the wine and distil it.”

The alcohol distilled has been reserved only for the production of hand gel.

Josso added: “The distilled wine in no case is to be used to make spirits. There will probably be a need to stock ethanol as well, but the volumes will be less significant than for wine.”

Winemakers have been hit by the closure of bars and restaurants in France and abroad. Exports to the US, which halved after the Trump administration introduced punitive 25% tariffs last October, fell further after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The exceptional measure has been approved by Brussels, and the EU will finance the distillation, the agency added.

According to The Guardian, winemakers have until 19 June to apply for the scheme and state how much wine they wish to transform. They will be paid €78 a hectolitre for appellation wine linked to a specific region and 58 for non-appellation.

The exceptional measure has been approved by Brussels, and the EU will finance the distillation, the agency added. Other wine-producing countries, such as Spain and Italy, have been forced into similar measures.

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