This is why we can’t have nice things. After a contentious diplomatic trip to France, Donald Trump fired off a series of rambling tweets about the host nation—its military history, its commitment to NATO, its weather. And then he remembered French wine.
Lifetime teetotaler Trump is right. Tariffs on French wine are higher than their American equivalents, ranging from 15 to 36 cents (€0.13 to €0.32) a liter on French wines, while American wines are taxed between 5.3 and 19.8 cents per liter. But is that enough of a difference to explain French drinkers’ near total disregard for US wines?
Americans, by contrast, are positively glugging away at French wine. The US is France’s largest export market: It also brings in roughly $25 billion worth of product from the EU a year, or about a third of the bloc’s total wine exports.
Though European drinkers do drink American wine—it makes up about 16% of all EU wine imports—they export about twice as much wine as they import (24.9 million hectoliters out to 13.78 million hectoliters in). Bottle shops in Europe prioritize local wines over foreign ones, while American shops typically offer a global selection.
Trump first mooted tariffs on luxuries like cars, perfume, handbags, wine, spirits and cheese in June, sparking anxieties in the US wine world. According to the New York Times, it’s not necessarily French producers who get stung by tariffs on wine, but US-based producers, shippers and retailers, who often absorb the costs on low- to mid-priced wines.
If Trump does decide to start a trade war with France, most of the bottles on these shelves will be at risk. As Bloomberg notes, any US measures against French wine would have to apply to the entire EU as a single trade area, endangering not just your Champagne and Merlot, but also your Rioja, Riesling, and Prosecco.