Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated he might lift a ban on advertising wine on French TV and in cinemas if he wins April's presidential elections.
Sarkozy is not himself a drinker
During a rally, the centre-right candidate said he supports advertising for "moderate wine consumption". Commercials were banned in 1991.
Competition and a fall in domestic sales have hit France's wine industry.
Mr Sarkozy is currently running neck-and-neck with Socialist rival Segolene Royal in the opinion polls.
France boasts the largest wine production in the world, employing some 75,000 people.
"Wine cannot be lumped together with tobacco or drugs", Mr Sarkozy told local wine producers.
Mr Sarkozy, who does not drink, made an exception at the rally, when he tasted a locally produced wine in Sancerre.
Segolene Royal has closed the gap in the polls
He also promised to protect French wine producers, vowing to bar from the market imported wines which fail to match the domestic wines' quality.
In the last few years, French wine producers have been challenged by imports of "New World" wines, mainly from Australia, United States and Chile, while younger people have started opting for alternative alcoholic beverages.
Mr Sarkozy and Segolene Royal are both due to pick up around 30 percent of the vote in the first round of the elections, according to the latest opinion polls.
Both candidates face a challenge from centrist candidate Francois Bayrou, who has climbed to 17 percent, outscoring the veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who polls between 11 and 14 percent.
However, Nicolas Sarkozy holds on to a slender lead in most polls in the second round against Segolene Royal.