By PANOS KAKAVIATOS — From 3 December 2012

The French are drinking less wine on a regular basis than ever before, a new survey has found.
A detailed demographic report on wine consumption
issued last week at the Vinitech wine and spirits trade show in Bordeaux indicates a continued downward trend in wine consumption in France.

In 2010, the average amount of wine consumed per person in France came to 46.6 litres per year, down from 104 litres in 1975, according to France AgriMer, which promotes agricultural and marine products in conjunction with the French Ministry of Agriculture. Based on a survey of 4,004 French people aged 15 and over, the study found that while there are more ‘occasional drinkers’, the number of ‘regular drinkers’ has fallen dramatically.

In 2010, 45% of respondents said they drink wine once or twice per week, compared to 30% in 1980.  But the percentage of those who say they drink wine ‘almost every day’ fell from 51% in 1980 to 17% in 2010.  The French also drink more non-alcoholic beverages than ever before.  15% said they drink non-alcoholic beverages with their dinner, up from 5% in 1980.

Over the same time period, 24% said they drink wine with dinner – less than half the percentage 32 years ago.  The survey goes up to 2010 but it was only released publicly this year because time was needed to verify figures, said Laurence Gibert-Mesnil, press relations for France AgriMer.  One possible explanation put forwared for the increase in occasional wine consumption is that people are seeking quality over quantity, and higher prices for quality wines limits the amount of wine consumed.

We cannot really verify that supposition, but in terms of wines with meals, we note that a significant number of occasional drinkers seem prepared to spend more for a single bottle of wine,’ Gibert-Mesnil told  She added that many interviewees thought it was ‘difficult’ to choose a bottle of wine, ‘so we could infer that choosing a more expensive bottle of wine for special occasions is a way to reflect quality.’