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French Farmers Give Cows Wine to Improve Taste of Beef

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- We've heard of cow tipping, but what about tipsy cows? Some French farmers are now serving their cattle up to two bottles of wine a day, claiming it improves the taste of the meat.

It all began with winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy, who had heard of studies in Spain and Canada that showed the benefits of a happy cow. With the help of farmer Claude Chaballier, who had a surplus of cows, he decided to test the theory, Agence France-Presse reports.

They started out slowly. In 2011, the pair began feeding three cows pomace, or diluted pressed grapes that were left over from the fall harvest. After a while, the cows were given the good stuff -- up to two bottles of wine per day.

And although it sounds like a lot of alcohol, Tastavy said the amount of wine given to each cow is based on official recommendations.

"For each animal, alcohol intake should be equivalent to the amount recommended by health authorities for a man -- namely two or three glasses of wine a day," Tastavy told the AFP. "In the case of cows, this amounts to between a liter and a liter and a half a day."

The cows aren't the only ones benefiting from experiment -- those eating the meat of the wine-drinking cattle are raving about its unique taste.

Chef Laurent Pourcel told the AFP that the meat has a "very special texture, beautiful, marbled and tender, which caramelizes while cooking."

The new beef even has a new name. It's being branded as vinbonvin, molding the French words for "wine" and "beef" into one.

But the improved taste means higher costs for farmers and therefore higher costs for consumers. Time reports the daily cost of feeding each cow has tripled, leading to a major increase for those purchasing the meat. One kilogram of the beef, or 2.2 pounds, will cost you upward of $122.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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