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Wine declines in popularity among the young in France, survey shows

Published:  10 December, 2015

Still wine is the preferred alcoholic drink of the French, being the top choice of 34% of consumers. Spirits and cocktails come next (22%), followed by beer (16%), then Champagne and sparkling wines (15%), according to the latest annual SOWINE/SSI Barometer survey of French attitudes to wine.

The headline figure masks some generational change, however. The young - those aged 18 to 25 - consume roughly the same amount of beer as they do wine or spirits: 24% compares to 23% and 22% respectively.

French women consume half the quantity of neat spirits that men do, but twice as much Champagne and sparkling wine.

Some 13% of French people do not drink alcohol at all, the survey revealed.

Food is far more important to the French than wine, coming second on the list of subjects they follow most closely, whereas wine only ranked 13th.

However, fully 75%, believe a good meal must accompanied by a bottle of wine. This is particularly true for those who buy wine once or more a week, amongst whom the figure is 90%. Even among the 18-to-25 year olds, it is a sentiment shared by 68%.

Although 58% will trust the advice of friends or family on the choice of wine in a restaurant - irrespective of their actual level of knowledge - 50% also trust the advice of the sommelier, while 15% choose randomly.

Ordering by the bottle in a restaurant is the preference of 44%, while 19% order by the glass and 18% by the carafe.

The survey showed that 13% of French people eat out at least once a week, with that figure rising to 26% in Paris.

Outside of the on-trade, 38% of the French would seek advice from their peers - especially via social networks - on choice of wine, with only 23% turning to professionals for advice.

But 65% of them believe it is important to understand a wine to fully appreciate it, and for 70%, it is important to do at least some research before buying wine.

Only 17% regularly consult specialized wine blogs, but of those, 82% attach great importance to the advice they find, and 27% of them act on the advice directly and buy some wine.

Relatedly, 17% of respondents had bought wine that was recommended to them on a social network, while 28% of mobile device owners had bought wine using a smartphone app, considerably up on the 9% last year.

However, wine drinking is very much regarded as a private pleasure, with 73% choosing home or with the family as their preferred drinking occasion. Friends' houses are the choice of 29%, with restaurants third at 18%, and bars a distant fourth at 6%.

When buying wine in the off-trade, the French overwhelmingly prefer to buy their wine at supermarkets, with 55% of them citing them as a preference. Wine merchants are the choice of 29%, while 10% would rather go direct to the wine grower.

Just 6% of French wine buyers would use the Internet as their first choice for wine purchases. However, 30% bought wine online this year, up from 24% last year.

Some 27% have never bought wine on line simply because it has never occurred to them.

Those who do buy online in France prefer to buy direct from the wine-growers' own websites, with 50% placing their orders there.

Both supermarkets and online wine merchants attract 35% of French online customers, with 32% seeking out private online sales websites. Wine-case subscriptions and wine auction websites are the choice of 15% of purchasers.

One of the leading surveys of French attitudes to wine, the SOWINE/SSI Barometer is now in its sixth year.

It was conducted by Survey Sampling International in May 2015 on a representative sample of 1,111 people, aged between 18 and 65.

SOWINE is a marketing and communications consultancy dedicated to the wine, Champagne and spirits industry.

It was founded in Paris in 2006 by Marie Mascré and Sylvain Dadé. It opened additional offices in Lyon and Bordeaux earlier this year.