French wine tasters ask for vaccine priority to protect sense of smell and taste

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French wine tasters have urged the government to prioritise them for vaccines after dozens were left unable to work when they lost their sense of smell and taste after being infected with COVID-19, reports The Daily Telegraph.

In a survey of more than 2,600 wine workers, the Union of France Oenologists said nearly 70% of those who contracted COVID-19 lost their sense of smell and over half lost their sense of taste, affecting their ability to do their job. “It’s like asking a musician to play without his instrument,” said Didier Fages, the union’s director.

As France’s vaccination campaign picks up speed and workers deemed essential such as teachers and police officers get jabs, the body has written to Jean Castex, the prime minister, to demand that wine tasters be moved to the front of the queue for anti-COVID shots to protect their livelihoods.

Winemakers say subtler tastes are harder to detect after re-training their noses post-COVID, finding the aromas of dark fruits and berries are simple to detect, but those of mandarines and ripe citrus fruits are more elusive.

The Telegraph reports that France’s multi-billion-pound wine industry had already been affected by restaurant closures and lockdowns since the start of the pandemic.

Full report in The Daily Telegraph (Restricted access)

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