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French wine consumption continues to drop

(ran SP edition)

The news is enough to make you turn to drink: Amid soaring unemployment and fin de millennium gloom, France has gone off wine.

Figures published this week by the national wine board, Onivins, show that in the past 27 years French adults have halved their annual wine consumption to 15.6 gallons each, less than a glass a day.

Women and young people drink less than anyone else; 70 percent of women told Onivins that they had "more or less" given up drinking.

Sociologist Gerard Mermet lamented the news in the newspaper Le Figaro: "This could be the start of the marginalization of wine in our society."

Whereas wine was on half of all French dinner tables in 1980, it remains on only one in five, said Christian Melani of Onivins. Meanwhile, consumption of mineral water and beer has increased.