Food & Wine,Restaurants,Wine,Wine Business

Holy cowness and Mon Dieu!

Everybody seems to be talking about this, so let’s catch up.

Story in the Drinks Business ~ “French cows fed wine to increase flavour.”

The sub title reads: A number of farmers in the Languedoc have taken to feeding their cattle local red wine to improve the flavour of their beef.

[Buckle ’em up, Honey, we don’t want ’em to fall over.]

According to The Independent, “local farmer Claude Chaballier fed three animals last year – in a trial run that he’s preparing to repeat next month. He says the resulting beef was ‘lean, marbled and tasty.’ Two Angus and one Camargue were given a mix of leftover grapes, barley and hay before about two litres of wine were integrated into their diet.”

Chaballier is going forward with this as a small practice. He’s now also thinking about additional flavors, like a chef with ingredients to create a great dish. Next, he’s thinking of using muscat grapes. Musky, floral beef?

Okay, I want to know how the cows are liking the wine, first and foremost; and what’s the behavior of the cows, since alcohol of any sort is foreign to their digestive systems. I had to read on. It seems that cows were first fed the wine in a mix of barley, hay and grapes. Okay, got their digestives systems ready for the real deal… It turns out that these cows were happy cows ~ oh yeah ~ who ended up producing “an exceptionally succulent meat.”

Take note, you cannibals. As David Letterman used to say, “Know your cuts of beef.” Cannibals, “Know your wine lovers.”

Could we then be producing alcocowlics?

I can’t take total credit for this new word. In the comments of the stroy, I read one by Francois Capron-Manieux. Francois wrote, “Here they come: the Alcowlics!!!!” This made me laugh, and I thought… “Almost there.” I just couldn’t get my tongue around “Alcowlics,” but I could easily pronounce “Alcocowlics,” and have it still be with four syllables.

So, what are the scientific (versus experiential) results of feeding cows wine? Let’s go to Scientists in Australia for their findings. Very positive, as it turns out. These scientists have scientifically proven a corresponding link between feeding cows left-over wine products and an increase in milk production.

I never measured that when I was nursing my children. While I enjoyed a bit of wine, I didn’t over indulge and raised three healthy children. Now I wish I had measured my milk production on wine days and non-wine days… I always had plenty of milk, regardless. I enjoyed that time of motherhood.

Good thing baby cows are taken away from the mothers early in this process, though, huh? Otherwise we’d have happy baby cows flipflopping all over the place, since they stand so quickly after birth.

And, please don’t share this with American farmers who take baby cows into a veal program… They might take after the Kobe beef farmers of Japan, that create their Japanese Kobe beef with the help of beer.

Neither of which I can bear to eat, just thinking of the proven inhumane conditions for each baby animal. Yeah, I love (all) babies that much.

Belgian farmers have been feeding beer to their beef cattle for at least a decade, so they’re probably laughing at all of us, or saying, “Shucks, our advantage will soon be over.”

According to Today, July 11, 2012:

French cows are enjoying up to two bottles of high quality wine every day as farmers attempt to produce the best beef in Europe. The extraordinary development has seen a “Vinbovin” label of meat established which is already being championed by some of the best restaurants in Paris.

So what’s the beef?

Introducing wine into the feed of the Lunel-Viel cows tripled the cost of their feed, adding up to £80.00 Euros ($98) to the cost of a prime beef cut.

Okay, I can see all of this going to Paris, or Dubai, or the Far Flung Islands of Langerhans. We won’t have to worry about it for a very long time, if ever.

Will it add to grape shortages? One can only wonder at it all.

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12 Responses to “Holy cowness and Mon Dieu!”

  1. Marty Johnson says:

    Wow! Great concept! Instead of spreading all of our pomace in the vineyard, increasing the number of fruit flies… and since we’re surrounded by Dairy farms here in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA (Washington State), and since corn prices are set to hit extremes again this year… well it seems like a no brainer! Right up my alley (ie: no brains). Watching for further developments. Please keep us posted Jo. Thx ~ marty

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Marty, seems like you’re onto something.

    Maybe that would help to also bring prices down to an affordable level.

  3. Greetings Jo. In the 80’s at Bouchaine we used to feed our pomace to the cows across the road (with permission from the farmer). It was a hoot…..after about three or four days those cows knew the regime. At 4 on the dot they were lined up at the fence and mooing loudly for their afternoon cocktails. They were not happy when harvest was over!

  4. Jo Diaz says:


    Brilliant. Why isn’t this adopted all over the place? What a great recycling program… Farmers (grapes and dairy) take note… A match made in heaven!

  5. gdfo says:

    Great idea.

    Personally, I do not always believe the claims of grape shortages, not always. LOL

  6. Sondra says:

    Great article and expansion on cows with wine. Will that have to be included on the list of ingredients?

  7. Here in Texas, we give our pomace to farmers, they use it to feed cattle/horses and compost what s left.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    gdfo and Sondra… Levity at its best.

  9. Jo Diaz says:

    This is interesting, Benjamin… The French finally eclipsed the US with a wine “news” story… It’s like the US all of a sudden being a more “hot” topic than Bordeaux was, and now it’s reversed. Turn about fair play…

    I love it!

  10. Jo,

    I come from a farmers family, both of my grandfathers were farmers on diversified farms in North of France with cattle for dairy and slaughter, grains, vegetables etc …

    One of these days I ll get a couple cows and test if feeding them pomace makes a taste difference, also you get pomace in the fall so that usually about the time you have to bring them in and feed them hay.

  11. Jeff says:

    You know what they say: “You are what you eat.”

    The same holds true with animals.

    Kobe Beef (drinks beer in summer months)
    Pigs/Boar (fed wine, hazelnuts, cherries, acorns)

    Many of the French vignerons that I work with feed their animals pomace during the fall and in most cases let them drink the wines from the previous harvest right before slaughter.

    Test it. It’s been working in other cultures for centuries.

    Why does this seem so surprising?

  12. Jo Diaz says:

    Yes, Jeff, you are what you eat.

    It’s pretty amazing info that you’ve shared. This is becoming quite an education for me. I’m happy that I fell upon this story.

    I forgot about the wild pigs in Portugal. They do eat mushrooms and acorns and their meat is highly prized.

    (Our culture is so behind in so many ways… All one has to do is travel outside of the US to see it.)

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