Report: ATF Bans French Wine Over Saucy Poem on Label

wine_1904741_searchtiny220px-Baudelaire_cropWhen I first read this story, I was sure it was a hoax, but now I am not sure. According to wine sites, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has denied a permit to import Château Haut Gay (AOC Bordeaux Supérieur) because the label is “an incentive to debauchery.” The wine’s bright orange label featured two verses of the poem “L’Ame du Vin” (“The Soul of Wine”) by 19th-century poet Charles Baudelaire. While I have few remaining illusions as to government work, this one remains unbelievable. If this is a hoax, it is brilliant. If it is true, it is a national disgrace.

The poem is part of the famous collection of Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). Notably, the translation does not appear on the labels, which means only French speakers would be debauched.

While Baudelaire was viewed as pretty risqué in his time, he is considered a master today. Here is his corrupting poem:

One evening, the spirit of wine sang in the bottles
Man, towards you I cry, o my dear deprived
Beneath my prison of glass and my ruby red wax
A song full of light and brotherhood.
Then, inside you I will fall, as fruity ambrosia
Precious seed thrown by the eternal Sower
So that our loving union will bear poetry
Which will shine forth towards God, like a rare flower.

The ATF gave no explanation for what was offensive in the poem. There is no appeal from such decision, which itself is something that the Congress should look into. It is bizarre that an agency decision would not be subject to review in such cases.

As someone not familiar with the label, I was at first suspicious of the name of the owner: Guillaume de Tastes. But it appears that that is a legit name.

I am trying to confirm this story with ATF and I am looking for any other source from any of our readers. Notably, the ATF press representative has not yet gotten back to me after I asked if this was a hoax. Obviously, if this story is true (I pray it is a hoax), someone needs to be fired at the ATF.

For the story, click here.

33 thoughts on “Report: ATF Bans French Wine Over Saucy Poem on Label”

  1. I found your article to be thought provoking and you also raise many good things to consider. I’m glad I came across this website and saw your article. It helped me out with a paper I had to write for a class I’m taking for my major at my university. I will be citing you as a source. Thanks for the great article.

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  3. Sounds to me like this wine could lead up to some pretty amazing sex!

    Maybe I’ll just have to go France and check this wine out

  4. BTW I know Tom Scheiffer. He is adorable. What we women call a cute man. What we mean is a whip smart intellect and a snappy dresser. Would be nice to have one in the governor’s office. He would know the difference between a merlot and a bordeaux as his mamma raised him right in Texas and he was U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Australia.

  5. Dear friends
    The ATF surely finds out if taxes have been paid on alcohol imports but does not surely have the power to actually approve or disapprove of labels. Hell of an urban legend and evokes our fears of an idiotic government but really approving of what is actually on a label. No way.

  6. nal
    1, October 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm
    Thanks to Suzanne Mustacich for that report. Sounds like the whole thing is a misunderstanding. Video of Suzanne can be seen, here.

    you are a triple threat, that cat must be some motivator.

  7. Jill 1, October 20, 2009 at 6:11 pm


    Have you read nal’s corrections? Sorry there is no one who compares, not even close. Nal puts the “Pedant’s Corner” at the Bead Museum to shame!

    Jill, you must not read the corrections page. I am nal’s chief protagonists. However, I have deep respect for his abilities. And another thing he is Nal to the professor. I know I can’t stop that and I have been on this list longer than nal and my feelings are hurt.

    As you are aware I awaken just to annoy and well, buddha, he lives to be of service. I know my position with the professor, just above the grass where a grasshopper rests. Yes, lowly, but the view is ok once you get used to it.

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