A tweet by Donald Trump attacking the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and threatening a wine war with France, has left a sour taste in Paris. In a series of online comments lambasting Macron over nationalism and world wars, the US president rated the wine trade between France and the US as “not fair”.
The jab at the wine trade between the US and EU was greeted with derision and puzzlement in France, even by Trump’s biggest fans in the country.
The Rassemblement National (National Rally), Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, which had previously approved Trump, criticised the US president over the attack.
Gilbert Collard, a politician who supported Le Pen’s party, told French TV that although he felt Trump was “absolutely right” in all his attacks on Macron, he was “absolutely wrong on what he says about French wine”.
Besides the inevitable “Make America Grape Again” jokes after Trump’s tweet, there was general confusion in France about what Trump actually meant.
Wine tariffs are fixed between the US and the EU and have been for decades. For Trump, whose family has a winery in Virginia, to go to war on French wine would also be to go to war on Italian, Spanish and other European wine.
France is a large wine-producing nation and big wine exporter globally. The US is the world’s biggest market for wine and has a large appetite for French wines, including champagne, rosé and Burgundy wine.
French consumers tend to drink very little US wine, although high-value American wine, for example from California, does have a market in France among wine experts.
Trump has long been critical of the EU’s trade policies. But French media said the topic of wine had not been raised as a leading issue in US trade negotiations in Brussels.
In 2003, when France opposed the US-led war in Iraq, some American conservatives, while renaming French fries “freedom fries” also called for a boycott on French wine – which had little impact.