Why do the French drink less wine?

Why do the French drink less wine?

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FFrench schools In the past, the nutritional value of wine was appreciated. It was so commonly served to children that in 1956 the government banned wine from school canteens – and then only for those under 14. France was the world’s leading wine producer last year. A bottle of wine has long been to the French meal what fast driving is to the German autobahn: a banal habit, a national right and a personal pleasure.

Not anymore. In 2022, around 10% of French people drank wine every day, compared to half in 1980. In 1960, the French drank an average of 116 liters of wine per person every day. Between 2000 and 2018, this volume increased from 28 liters to just 17. A glass of wine, not to mention the classic picketis an increasingly rare sight at the lunch table.

What is going on? It’s not just a question of price. A bottle of Bordeaux (brut) can still be found in a French supermarket for less than €3 ($3.25). Some village cooperatives sell local products directly from the vat at €1.90 per liter, less than fresh orange juice. A better explanation would be that the beer drinking trend is challenging Mediterranean habits. The French now say in polls that they prefer beer to wine. Beer, including craft beers, accounts for more than half of all alcohol purchased in French supermarkets. Even in the south of France, some cafes serve imported Belgian or German draft beer.

More importantly, a health-conscious younger generation is drinking less. A quarter of French people aged 18 to 34 say they never drink alcohol. No less than 39% of those under 35 say they do not drink wine, compared to only 27% of those over 50. Dry January entered the national lexicon. Non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks are becoming more widespread. In an attempt to “speak to the generation Z by adopting its codes”, Pernod Ricard, drinks giant, is leading a marketing campaign with the slogan “drink more…water!» (drink more… water!) – although that probably also means losing your morale in between.

Of course, French oenophiles – and importers – keep good wines flowing. Consumption of quality wines remains strong. But the decline of cheaper products has broader repercussions for France. Last summer, the government allocated 200 million euros to buy unnecessary low-end wine that producers could not sell. In some areas, farmers completely uproot smaller vines. Less alcohol may improve health, but not necessarily mood or the scenery of rural France.

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