The French are drinking less wine than ever before, with just 17 percent imbibing regularly, compared to 21 percent in 2005. French adults now consume the equivalent of barely a glass of wine per day.
However, the average French man and woman still drinks 57 liters of wine a year, according to a five-yearly study by FranceAgriMer, a division of the French Ministry of Agriculture. This figure puts the French among the biggest wine consumers in the world per capita. In comparison, the British drink 21.6 liters a year and the Americans just 9.4 liters.
Even so, French wine consumption has fallen by more than 100 liters a head since 1965, when the average adult supped 160 liters annually.
While the number of people drinking wine every day continues to fall, the total of occasional drinkers – those who imbibe once or twice a week – has increased to 45 percent, against 41 percent in the previous survey. Non-drinkers remain the same, at 38 percent.
The study's authors say the decline in wine drinking is partly a result of the global financial crisis, which has forced people to “reduce their consumption of expensive products.”
And consumers are becoming “increasingly cautious about products that are dangerous in excessive quantities,” according to Caroline Plot, head of FranceAgriMer's cultural studies unit. Speaking at this week’s global wine equipment fair, Vinitech, in Bordeaux, she said: “There is also a real change in consumption habits; soda and fruit juices are replacing wine on the dining table."
In 1980, non-alcoholic drinks other than water were rarely consumed with meals, while one in every two tables would have wine. Thirty years later, non-alcoholic drinks are served at 15 percent of meals, and wine appears at just one in four dinner tables.
“In general, alcohol and wine are now being consumed at weekends, in social settings or for celebrations,” said Philippe Janvier of FranceAgriMer, who led the study.
The research was conducted in 2010 and surveyed just over 4,000 people aged 15 and older.