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French chef launches war on Dry January with 'wine by the bottle' sale

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Paris (AFP)

Thinking about having a Dry January? Star French chef Alain Ducasse wants you to think again.

An outspoken opponent of the post-holiday abstinence challenge Ducasse on Tuesday launched an initiative to entice patrons of his restaurants to drink more, not less.

"I like swimming against the tide," he told AFP, announcing plans to propose top bottles of Burgundy and Bordeaux at knockdown prices to encourage diners to order wine by the bottle rather than by the glass."

"I'm obsessed with selling wine," Ducasse said, adding that he was horrified to see customers in New York order iced tea with their lunch instead of wine.

In France too, wine is becoming less of a staple during business lunches, prompting some restaurants to offer food-tea pairings.

"I've noted that trend but I don't want to see or hear of it, I am opposed to it," Ducasse, who has a string of award-winning restaurants across the world, said, vowing to "rid consumers of their inhibitions" with regard to drinking wine.

French winemakers too have also tried to torpedo the Dry January campaign, which began in Britain a few years ago and has since gained devotees in other countries, including France.

In November, the government quietly abandoned a campaign urging people to give up alcohol in January after the wine industry pushed President Emmanuel Macron to drop the plan.

France has the third-highest per capita consumption of alcohol among the 36 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to a report from the club of wealthy nations this month.

Alcohol results in 41,000 deaths in France each year, according to France's Public Health Agency, which urges people to limit themselves to two glasses a day -- "and not every day."

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