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French Wine Consumption Dropped 42% in the Past 60 Years


French wine consumption has dropped by 42% in just two generations. France is arguably the most famous country in the world for producing wine and for drinking it. But now, only 16.5% of the French are regular drinkers of wine, according to a study by the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business.

The French Paradox, made famous by television’s 60 Minutes, highlighted that the French, despite consuming more cheese and some other saturated fats, had lower rates of heart disease than Americans. The show identified France's high rate of red wine drinking as a key factor. Red wine contains health-preserving compounds such as resveratrol and polyphenols. Wine consumption in the U.S. has surged since that show. Many doctors recommend moderate consumption of red wine for the beneficial effects it can have on cardiovascular health. Yet, while the world has been celebrating the French Paradox with a nightly glass of vin rouge — and global wine quality has been improving — more and more French drinkers are saying “non merci!”

Pourquoi? There appear to be a number of reasons:
  • As in many countries, it seems new French generations try to differentiate themselves from their parents and grandparents. That has meant rejecting wine, favored by their parents, in favor of other alcoholic beverages.
  • New generations no longer see making and drinking wine as an important part of their identity as French people.
  • Whereas previous generations of French predominantly, and regularly, drank wine with meals, new generations prefer to enjoy it as a social lubricant or for the sheer pleasure of drinking it. The French are becoming Americans!
  • There is a much wider variety of beverages available to the French than there were 60 years ago. It used to be that almost all foods and beverages consumed were those made locally.
  • Wine, even if it didn’t taste good, used to be a staple because it was sometimes safer to drink than the water. Water quality and water storage are now vastly improved
  • Wine provided needed calories at a relatively low price. Now, food scarcity isn't a problem in France.
  • Or it could just be that rich guys in Hong Kong are buying every bottle of good Bordeaux...