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Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/gb/dokument.aspx?iid=53801

Polish MEPs are shocked by the incident surrounding a debate in the
European Parliament on the definition of vodka.

A representative of the German government sent a letter to 24 countries
asking for their support for redefining vodka so that it stands also
for products made of different ingredients than the traditional vodka.
However, the German letter was not sent either to the Polish or the
Lithuanian delegations.

Polish MEP Bogus³aw Sonik issued a statement, in which he expressed his
outrage at the way in which Germans were trying to do business behind
the back of some EU countries. He stressed, that to exclude Poland and
Lithuania even in a single matter is a sign of discrimination.

Polish MEP demanded an immediate reaction from Chancellor Angela Merkel
and an investigation of apparent connections between German officials
who issued the controversial letter and groups lobbying for a wider
definition of vodka.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

A detailed, better article from the BBC

EU vodka arguments

European Union member states disagree on what vodka should be made of.
The EU's current legal definition of vodka says it can be made from any agricultural produce.

But some countries say that real vodka is made only from grain or potatoes.

Attempts are under way to resolve the dispute by the time of a vote in the European Parliament in March 2007.


What, in practice, is vodka made of?

Different countries make it in different ways. Wheat is most popular in Russia and Sweden, barley in Finland, rye and potato in Poland. It is also made from sugar beet molasses and fruit, including grapes, in some countries.

In principle a clear "white" spirit can be distilled from anything that ferments. It is reported that coal was used in Communist Poland, but that efforts to use chickens were unsuccessful. A by-product of the wood-pulp industry was once used in Sweden.

Where does vodka come from?

The word "vodka" is derived from "voda", which means water in Russian and Polish. The use of vodka as a flavourless mixer in cocktails is a fashion which began in the US, and took off in Western Europe after World War II.

Who drinks it?

More and more of us. The UK's Gin and Vodka Association says vodka has overtaken whisky as the biggest-selling spirit in the UK. The vodka market is also growing rapidly in Germany and southern Europe, and is huge in the US.

It has a very large, but declining, share of the spirits market in Sweden and Poland.

Who would be worst affected if drinks made from sugar beet or fruit were not counted as vodka?

One estimate doing the rounds says that two-thirds of EU production outside the Baltic region would be eliminated. About one-third of the UK's output would be in trouble, mainly supermarket own-label vodka and other budget brands made from sugar beet.

According to the European Vodka Alliance, which is fighting against the Finnish/Polish proposal, 90% of Czech vodka and three-quarters of German vodka would lose the right to call itself vodka.

Southern European countries which make grape-based vodkas would also be disadvantaged.

Do vodkas made from different raw materials taste different?

It depends on the method of distillation. Some vodkas are distilled in such a way that the flavour of the raw material completely disappears. But the tendency in Poland and the Nordic countries is to preserve some of the taste produced by the raw material.

It takes a very experienced vodka drinker, however, to identify the flavour of rye, wheat, potato etc.

How is the European Commission proposing to define vodka in the regulation now being discussed?

Like this: "Vodka is a spirit drink produced from ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin."

It goes on to say that it is "distilled and/or rectified so that the organoleptic characteristics of the raw materials used and by-products formed in fermentation are selectively reduced".

The minimum strength is 37.5%.

What does the European Parliament think?

Its environment committee has proposed continuing to allow vodka to be made from any agricultural produce.

However, it says that the raw material of any vodka not made from grain, potato or molasses should be clearly labelled.

It also says that vodkas made from more than one ingredient should be labelled as "blended vodka".

How long has vodka been around?

In Russia and Poland it has been around for hundreds of years. Smirnoff left Russia after the revolution and began production in the US after the end of prohibition. The company first made vodka in the UK in 1952.

The first spirits branded as vodka in Nordic countries went on sale in the 1970s.

Do people really drink it neat?

It is still drunk neat with dinner in Russia and some other parts of Eastern Europe: someone pronounces a toast and everyone downs their glass of vodka in one.

The same also happens at celebratory meals in Central and Northern Europe - at weddings for example - though there is an increasing tendency among the young to drink it with mixers and in cocktails, as in Western Europe and the US.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

and:-
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5332432.stm

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

I've been told it is now becomming unfashionable to drink vodka neat in Poland. Beer is apparently becoming more popular. The only Polish vodka mixer I've heard of is apple juice with Zubrowka. However, I still know Poles who consider it a sin to mix anything with vodka.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

It appears that Germany has an interest in not sending the letter to Poland seeing as German Vodka is not the real thing. Is this an example of corruption in Germany?

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

"Is this an example of corruption in Germany?"

This is an example of an industry lobby having a government offcial 'bought and paid for'. That's just how the game is played.

This little war has been going on for a while and it is financed largely by German distillers who are trying to break into the lucrative vodka market which is, at the present time, dominated by Polish, Russian, and Sweedish producers. They are using current political climate to advance their agenda. Clever move.

This is just an example of how PiS and their lack of diplomatic skill is costing Polish and Poland-based businesses money.

I have never despised a political org as much as I hate PiS right now.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

"This is an example of an industry lobby having a government offcial 'bought and paid for'. That's just how the game is played. "

Doesn't that fall under the definition of corruption?

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

No. Standard definition of corruption is a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement. Having ‘friends’ in the government does not necessarily signal corruption.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

I was using ‘bought and paid for’ loosely. It just means he is on their sight of the fence.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

Jesus. I meant their SIDE of the fence

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

"No. Standard definition of corruption is a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement. Having ‘friends’ in the government does not necessarily signal corruption. "

I see ....silly me

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

Whisky?

Taka ruda wóda na myszach.

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

Have noticed that Finlandia seems to be the vodka of choice in Poland - does this say something about Polish Vodka?
Just don't touch Absolut - an ad agencies invention - or any UK vodka called Red Square,Kremlin or Bolshoi - they have been made in a chemical plant in Basingstoke !

http://www.european-vodka-alliance.org/index.htm

Re: Scandal in EU negotiations over vodka

I would go for Wisniowka on ice ....yummy but probably completely Polish chavette thing to drink lol