I know we have covered the new French paradox recently but I came across a fact that put it into sharp focus: No country in the world has cut its alcohol consumption more over the past 4 decades than France except the United Arab Emirates, where even possession of alcohol is banned.* Even more surprising is that beer and spirits consumption has held steady, so what has vintners really seeing red is that the reduction is entirely in wine. Talk about a paradox!
Chalk it up to the disappearance of the leisurely meal. A key to healthy drinking is to consider wine as a part of a meal – in fact I have an entire chapter in Age Gets Better with Wine titled “Wine is a Food.” The average French meal is now said to be down to 38 minutes, barely an appetizer and aperitif before. And the French apparently frequent McDonald’s more than any other country in Europe. But others are taking up the slack: Spain formally classified wine as a food in 2003. And Spain has become not only one of the world’s great food and wine destinations, but a leader in the science of wine & health.
*From a chapter in Mark J. Penn’s excellent book Microtrends.