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Delhi Wine Club
French Wine Consumption hits a Record Low

Posted: Wednesday, 05 December 2012 10:45

French Wine Consumption hits a Record Low

December 05: Even as the Bordeaux Classified Growths struggle to match their wines with Indian cuisine and ride a wave of French red wine popularity in China despite their poor food-wine match, the latest national survey shows they are drinking water, coke and juices with their own cuisine, bringing down the average per capita consumption to a 30-year low of 57 liters from 160 liters a year, 47 years ago in 1965.

According to the survey conducted by the French Ministry of Agriculture every 5 years, less than one in five French adults now drink wine every day. The number of people who drink wine daily fell to 17 % in 2010, down from 21 % five years ago. In the same period however, the number of occasional drinkers who enjoy a glass once or twice a week, rose from 41 to 45 % while the number of teetotalers remained steady at 38 % during this period.

A report by AFP notes that the wine consumption has fallen from about 3 glasses a day to a glass a day between 1965 when the consumption recorded 160 liters and 2010, the latest period of such study. In 1980, wine used to be served on average at half of all meals. By 2010 the number had fallen to one in four.

The long-term pattern of sharply falling consumption which has also resulted in the number of bistros in France nose diving from about 200,000 to only 35,000 during the last 50 years, is ostensibly due to the sluggish economy and the perceived health concerns and the strict driving laws and even more strict implementation, unlike in India where a majority of cases of drunken driving continue to go unpunished even though they are mostly caused by hard liquor drinking drivers. 

“There has also been a real shift in consumption habits- fizzy drinks and fruit juices are taking the place of wine on the French table," says an official who supervised the survey. Wine in particular has become a weekend ritual- to be enjoyed in a convivial setting or for celebratory occasions.

French politicians have historically been ambassadors of the nation’s wines, but the former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy was reportedly quoted as stating an international business convention, “I have never drunk a drop of alcohol in my life. In France! And the French still elected me president.”

However, during the visit of 33 members of the powerful Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux to India earlier this year, the then President of UGCB, Sylvie Cazes had asserted that the teetotaler President had been helpful for wine industry during his regime. She had told delWine in an exclusive interview, ‘I think Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy was very helpful to Bordeaux when he was the President. The Mayor of Bordeaux was very close to him. He helped firstly by protecting appellation system. Some people wanted to ban marketing through internet but now it is allowed- we believe he was instrumental in it. Although he didn’t drink wine, he was a true economist and for him new viticulture was particularly important.’

Today, neither Ms. Cazes nor Mr. Sarkozy is a President. It would be naïve to assume that he lost the election this year because he did not drink wine,a ‘national’ drink in 1965 when the country guzzled 160 liters, even though a majority of it might have been plonk, But it would take more than the new President Francois Hollande to bring back the old days, although he may be able to reverse the trend during his term if he values the long-standing culture of wine that has in fact inspired many countried including India to imbibe wine.

Or perhaps the French have also started following the dictum of delWine- Drink less but drink better wine!?



Niladri Dhar Says:

There goes the 'French Paradox' for a toss! On a serious note, more than concern about health and alcohol intake, this slump could be a result of the sluggish economy. The tetotaler President's decision to ban advertising of alcohol (almost like India) didn't help either. The restaurant wine sales scene in the US during the heights of recession in 2008/09 went down to their lowest levels but are on the path of recovery now. Will be good to know the trend of French wine consumption internationally which, may still be quite bullish. Cheers, Niladri

Posted @ December 05, 2012 17:10


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