By the Blouin News Politics staff

Cash-strapped France sells presidential wines

by in Europe.

France's opposition Socialist Party (PS) candidate for the 2012 presidential election, Francois Hollande, tastes a glass of wine as he visits the Paris International Agricultural fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, on February 28, 2012 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHARLES PLATIAU

Francois Hollande tastes a glass of wine on February 28, 2012 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHARLES PLATIAU

It’s little secret that France is feeling the economic crunch amid skyrocketing youth unemployment and a return to recession for the first time in four years. However, even as floundering French president François Hollande scolded the European Commission for “dictating” orders — on Wednesday the regional body called on Paris to enact pension reforms and rein in spending — France unveiled a surprising initiative to raise money: selling vintage bottles of wine from the Elysee Palace’s cellar. The goal? Raise money to purchase less extravagant vintages for presidential functions without using public funds. A strategic move, perhaps, from an unpopular leader trying to sell a gentler kind of austerity to a resistant constituency (and further separate himself from his predecessor, President ‘Bling-Bling’ Sarkozy). Could Hollande’s aged cheeses be next…?